To commit to marathon training you either need to be addicted to running or have a bloody good reason to ramp up the training. I’m not addicted to running. Here is my bloody good reason.
Three years ago, pretty much to the day, I lost my best friend Paul.
Over a number of years Paul and I had become close friends as our lives came together and intersected through our work, our hobbies and our families. We met working in India but were originally no more than friendly acquaintances. I can’t remember how it happened, but when we were back in the UK we began playing golf together and pretty soon spent every other weekend at a golf course.
By this time our work life was following a similar path. Both of us were selected for a management development programme as our careers moved steadily forward and we graduated together with our Mum’s looking proudly on. Throughout this time, we were both cultivating great relationships for ourselves so Paul and his fiancee Sarah came to our wedding about a year before we went to theirs. Within the next 12 months we’d both had fantastic baby daughters. I can remember playing golf with Paul at Oadby in Leicester where he told me they were expecting a baby. We were on the 7th tee. We celebrated with a couple of pints when we finished and he told me of his impending redundancy.
It was at the same golf course that I planned to break the news about our second pregnancy a few years later. I’d intended to tell him on the 7th tee and he was to be the first person I had confided in outside of my family. Anyway, he pipped me to it when, on the 2nd tee, he told me that they were expecting their second baby too. We were delighted for each other and stood hugging in celebration.
That was just one of many fantastic memories I have of sharing time with Paul. His stag weekend in Newquay was easily the best one I have been on and we often shared stories of mine in Edinburgh.
After leaving our company Paul worked hard to make a go of things in the Financial Services sector and seemed to be getting along well. But there must have been something else going on in Paul’s mind. Three weeks after our last round of golf, two weeks after coming round to our house with his family to enjoy dinner together, three days after we popped round to ease the quarantine induced cabin fever of their daughter having chicken pox, Paul committed suicide.
None of us saw it coming. And to be honest, I have never understood or really got my head around what happened. It felt like our worlds had been turned upside down and I cannot begin to imagine how Sarah, who was still pregnant at the time, coped with losing him and looking after their daughter.
In my world, I had hoped that Paul and Sarah would be our “friends for life”. The ones with whom our lives just easily intertwined. And so, selfishly, Pauls death hit me hard. And it scared me. Because Paul was like me, he was my buddy and I can’t understand what happened that made him need to end his life. Running this marathon for Mind is both charitable and therapeutic in equal part. I still don’t understand and I still can’t change what happened but maybe I can raise a bit of money to prevent it happening to another family.
Throughout everything, Sarah has been a rock and is truly my most inspiring friend. I’m sure she has had dark days and I hope that we have been the friends she has needed us to be. Our youngest daughters were born just a day apart less than three months after Paul died, and if ever a person should be celebrated as an amazing mother it is Sarah…. but she’d hate that!
To help their daughter come to terms with things, Sarah asked her to remember her Daddy every time she saw a rainbow. I hold on that as a reminder Sarah’s strength and of the glorious responsibilities and privileges we enjoy as parents.
Every rainbow I see makes me smile. It makes me cry. And it makes me remember Paul.
I’m running the Brighton Marathon for Mind because there are enough rainbows in the sky.