I’ve started this post several times but stopped, my feelings too conflicted to distill in 500 words.
On January 7, Sherry Arnold went for a run and didn’t come back, the only trace of her a single shoe by the road. According to news reports, two men have been charged with aggravated kidnapping in connection with her disappearance and Arnold is presumed dead. Her body has yet to be found.
That’s the stark and tragic account but it only tells a tiny bit about the end of Sherry’s life. It doesn’t tell her story. It doesn’t show the woman she was or the mother, wife and teacher her family and students remember. For a snippet about that wonderful woman, read this post by her cousin Beth on Beth’s Shut Up and Run blog.
As a tribute to Sherry’s courage, strength and grace, Beth has organized a virtual memorial run for Sherry on February 11, 9AM MST. To get more information about the run, print a bib or donate to the family, read this post.
I’ll be running. I didn’t know Sherry, but her story touches me deeply, as it’s touched so many runners. She’s part of my sisterhood. Like Sherry, I’m a mother, a wife and a runner who hits the road, often alone.
I’ve thought of Sherry during almost every run in the past three weeks, some of them adrenaline-fueled races against myself as I’ve thought about the many dangers to runners, especially women, no matter how many precautions we take. I’ve imagined the many ways Sherry’s story might have ended differently, have ended later. But we can’t revise real life the way we might a blog post or piece of fiction. We also can’t predict how our own stories will end.
Each day we head out the door, whether it’s to drive carpool, go to work, meet a friend for coffee or squeeze in a quick run, we go with hope. We don’t expect to find tragedy on the stoop or around the corner. If we did, we’d never leave the house. We’d stop living or live in fear.
From what I’ve read, Sherry Arnold was a woman who lived and loved fully. Her story should inspire each of us to count our blessings and resolve to do the same – to stretch our legs, our lungs, our minds and our hearts, to embrace the ones we love and laugh or cry with them, to move forward.
On Feb 11, runners across the country, maybe even across the globe, will honor her life by running in her memory. Many of us never had the chance to meet this woman whose life was tragically cut short. Together, we grieve for her family and friends and pay tribute to Sherry’s courage, strength and grace.