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  • Heather Mistretta

The Day My Mind Raced as I Ran

As I neared the tracks where less than 24 hours earlier a young 25-year-old woman had taken her life, I didn’t know if my run was going to end with a smile, a long sigh or sobbing….or a combination of all three.

Yes, I make this assumption recklessly, but I can’t imagine how someone could be accidently struck and killed by a rushing, loud piece of machinery that was likely vibrating the ground beneath her and screeching as the conductor desperately tried to stop.

I remembered just a few steps earlier as I passed my halfway mark, leaf blowers and a variety of dogs, I realized that this was one of those runs that makes your mind explode. That euphoric feeling when those cobwebs, dark and cavernous corners and detours that are frequent visitors of my mind suddenly were no longer there. My brain was an open concept…in a really good way. I hadn’t just finished a healthy green shake nor had I gotten a great sleep the night before. It was just one of those moments that I’m planning on making a concerted effort to repeat as many times as I can.

My run ended, and I smiled.

Not because I was happy about everything. Hardly. My finances were shaky at best. My career was nowhere where I thought it would be at this point in my life. I rented a house after being evicted from one I owned a decade earlier.

And I will still thinking about that tragedy that happened about a half mile from my house at 8:42 pm on the railroad tracks that separated a blue collar neighborhood from an upscale multi-million dollar home neighborhood in a seemingly bucolic town that was likely shaken by a woman feeling so desperate that she thought this was the only way to solve her problems.

My heart aches for her and all who loved her and the pain and loss they must be feeling now. The whys and the what-ifs that must be violently swirling through their minds as they cope with the haunting sight of identifying her body, planning her funeral and notifying her loved ones of what happened.

It got me thinking that we all can do better, and by “we” I naturally mean me too. I try to say hello or just wave to everyone I pass along my jogging route, but I’m sure I’ve missed one once in a while. But no more. And this may seem dramatic, but that’s certainly not my intention.

I offer you a suggestion. Next time you go out for a brisk walk, or a jog, or a bike ride, or a stroll with your dog and someone passes you, acknowledge them with a hello, a wave or a simple smile. It could be that acknowledgement that may make someone—a complete stranger most of the time—say ok, maybe life is worth living.

You might just give them that extra push they need to keep on going, give them the hope they had been scrambling for unsuccessfully. And all just because you let them know that they matter enough to be acknowledged.

I strongly believe that it is this communication that is our survival of humankind depends on. It’s not the tweets, posts, selfies and likes that sustain us.

It’s the simple hellos and kind gestures that do. And really it’s not that hard to do. So, I

challenge you.

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