Monday, September 24, 2012

To My Friends Who Loved Pete Mingwah

 "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."   
Marcel Proust

Tony, Chris and Pete - Summer7 2012
This past weekend, the running community lost a friend.  Although, I had only met Pete Mingwah (very briefly) at the recent SF Marathon, I know he was extremely important to many of my closest runner friends.  As I heard the sad news, my phone started to ring and text messages came pouring in.

As expected, the first emotion was shock and dismay from so many of my friends, who ran and loved Pete.

I held back the tears as I heard the broken heart voices of my friends.  I wanted to take their pain away.  I have been there way too many times in my life.  I know the mourning process and journey.  I know how our mind and body grieves the loss.  

As my FB running friends heard of the news, pictures were appearing of Pete's amazing smile and contagious spirit.  There were words posted of grief, loss and even anger.  All normal and expected emotions.

Last night, as I listened to a friend break down on the phone, I was propelled back to my own losses.  In 1995 I had 13 deaths in 12 months.  All close friends - all tragic deaths.  No illnesses - so they were all a shock.  I reached a place that I felt I should have my own parking place at the Funeral Home.  

And of course, most recently in 2011, loosing my best friend, my dog, Ladybug.  

I learned a lot about how to mourn, in those 12 months.  I learned how to allow myself to heal and still be around for those who were mourning with me.  

Thus, the reason for this blog.  Share with all my friends who are hurting, angry and still in shock.     

1.  You don't have to be strong.  But use this time to strengthen your bond with those who are hurting.
2.  BE REAL with your mourning and emotions.  One moment you will be happy, the next you will be sad.  BE REAL and act on the emotion.  This will help you heal.
3.  Death changes you, and even your body.  Your body will hurt for no apparent reason, from time to time.
4.  Stay hydrated.  You will be crying and you will loose fluids.  Drink lots of water.
5.  Recognize that death is a part of life.  There is no avoiding it.  While it is hard to say "good-bye" to Pete, eventually we all have to say good-bye to someone we love.  REJOICE in the time you knew him and savor each memory
6.  ALL the emotions you are feeling are normal and it's okay to feel that way!  Everyone mourns differently.
7.  The mourning and missing Pete will not stop after he is in his Final Resting Place.  It is often weeks or months after the burial, your true emotions come to the surface.  Surround yourself with people who are willing to walk the journey with you and support your mourning.  Stay clear of ANYONE in that first year, who would say "it's been # months - time to move on!"  You need at least a year to mourn, give yourself that time. The pain of loosing Pete will not go away (and it shouldn't) but you WILL find a way to manage the loss and pain.  Give it time.
8.  Use your emotions to honor him in your own way.  It may be a race.  It may be something else.  But, as a runner, I can promise you with every fiber in my being he is with you EVERY step of the way.  He loved his friends, it was evident.  Ladybug gave me more strength than I could of ever imagined in many of my races.
9.  Find your way to honor him at races, for yourself.  It can be as a group or something personal.  That is why I wear a Ladybug patch on my shirt and always have my post-race picture taken with Ladybug's ball.  It's my way to honor her. I do it for ME, not for anyone else.  
10.  It's worth grateful for the time you had with him.  Although I know, that I know you wish he was here - it is better to have loved and lost, than to have never have known him.

You are all AMAZING friends and I know he knows that.  He will carry you through those tough miles and I have no doubt you will see and feel his warmth and smile waiting for you at the Finish Line.

Rally Pete would want you to.  That's just what the running community does for each other.

My love to you all...My sympathies for your loss.  I feel your pain and I am here if you need me, in anyway. 

Rest in Peace and Joy, Pete.  Thank you for being a friend to so many.  May you enjoy your Eternal Finish Line.

Pete Mingwah

(c) C. Ragsdale 2010-12
Run F.A.B.,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
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