Today I went to San Francisco to look at the race venue. It was in the 70's and the sun was shinning. There should be no rain tomorrow. I am excited! No workout again today.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
When Kristy was 28 and just entering professional competition as a triathlete she wrote on her resume, "My goals are simple: to excel and compete without regard to preconceived limits."
One month before her death she very casually told me she had worked it out. She was going to win every race from now until the end of the month and she would then be qualified to compete for a spot in the Olympics. I looked at her in amazement. I had been to races with her. I knew how competitive they were. And even though I had seen her win many times even I felt this would be a super human feat.
She was just sitting on the bed smiling and petting the dog. Kristy was not one to make idle boasts - in fact she was not one to boast at all. She did in fact go on to win every race. I remember that day she told me she was going to win with such strength and confidence. To remember her beautiful face as she was saying this still makes me swell with pride. There was magic in that moment. The magic of knowing yourself and not being afraid to voice it. The magic of knowing who you are and believing in it.
While at the lake today I thought about this as I ran past a single swan floating silently along the shore. I have seen it here for the past month - always solitary. Its beauty cannot be denied. It is not the same as the small brown ducks paddling noisily along. It stays by itself and commands it's own majesty. I feel a connection to it which is hard to describe.
We should never hide what makes us truly beautiful for fear of being set apart.
Today's workout: Today's schedule commands I rest. Yay! I feel I have rested so much this week as I have only been allowed to run 6 miles. This is the taper period and we shall see if it works. Tonight I will go out and eat pizza. What a treat! Only 2 days until the race....
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Writing in this online journal has become a catharsis for me. It's odd to write down my private thoughts. At the same time it seems the less I edit what I write the more it seems to make sense. Anyway, I was thinking about what I wrote the other day about finding truth and it setting you free. It seems like such a little thing. But as soon as I typed it I knew it was really a big thing.
In the darkest corner of my mind the one question I want to ask of everyone that knew Kristy is, "Did she know how much I loved her?" But why would this be so important? Why is this the one thing that makes me break into tears every time and keeps me awake at night. And why am I afraid and even embarrassed to ask?
When your daughter is alive you don't walk up to her and say, "Do you know how much I love you?" The question is self defeating. What you're really doing is asking for confirmation when you really don't want to do the hard work of making sure, you just want the "yes." And the other person knows this and just gives you what you want. On the other hand, this is what you're telling your loved one over and over each time you show them - from the smallest kindness to the largest sacrifice. Love is not passive. When someone is truly loved they know it. If there's anything I want to be sure of it's that my daughter knew how much I loved her.
I have spent the last 10 months of my life trying to make sense of what has happened. There are so many questions. I wonder what my life would be like if this had not happened. Would I know then what I know now - how indescribably precious every day is?
Today's workout: 30 minutes cross training at the gym. My nose is getting stuffy, what a bad time to be fighting a cold!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
When I was running today I thought about this: According to Buddhist belief, the reason people suffer is because all things change. We all live in a fleeting, transitory world but we all stubbornly refuse to admit it. We cling to what is impermanent - the greatest evidence of this is our fear of death. Suffering would stop if we could achieve indifference to pain and loss. If we would not desire, then we would be free. Unfortunately the price of this is to be indifferent to the joys of life as well, by treating both the same.
The Buddha's doctrine is notable for its simplicity. It was the first true atheistic religion. The Buddha felt that life, despite pleasure, was primarily about recurring loss and separation. But are we to withstand life's suffering by not allowing life to touch us? Isn't this like the words in Pink Floyd's song, becoming "comfortably numb?"
When Kristy first died it was as if time stood still. The pain was so deep and constant it was in fact like an amputation. Our experience of time is based upon movement, things changing. When nothing matters - nothing moves or changes, when everything turns off, there is no more time. This is death. This is not being alive, this is the absence of life.
The opposite of not allowing circumstances to alter your state of mind, is to let it devour you. The "rapture of being alive" - the full-bodied experience. Kristy once wrote: "My life is passing quickly. I do not expect to be made happy at every turn. Neither do I expect my heart to plod along safely, nor do I want it to. My only expectation is that I feel deeply. Pain, pleasure, grief, euphoria, loneliness, fulfillment and onward. I would be silly and ungrateful to resent the fact that it didn't last longer. I don't care anymore about keeping my heart safe."
Is this what "let it be" really means?
Today's workout: This was my last run at the lake before the race on Sunday. It's hard to believe I have come so far. As I started up the path I met my friend Emily. I have not spoken with Emily in a long time, but it was she who touched my heart last summer when I was still just walking the lake. Now, 7 months later, we meet again. We are on the road to healing and we are like sisters. Thank you Emily.
I am kneeling by Kristy's marker at the side of the road
(When I read these words I felt as if I were saying them out loud. They ring true down to the bone and say that which cannot be spoken. For anyone who feels alone in their grief it can only help you to know there are others who have felt such deep despair and lived to bare their soul open wide.)
Contrary to the general assumption, the first days of grief are not the worst. The immediate reaction is usually shock and numbing disbelief. One has undergone an amputation. After shock comes acute early grief which is a kind of "condensed presence" -- almost a form of possession. One still feels the lost limb down to the nerve endings. It is as if the intensity of grief fused the distance between you and the dead.
Or perhaps, in reality, part of one dies. Like Orpheus, one tries to follow the dead on the beginning of their journey. But one cannot, like Orpheus, go all the way, and after a long journey one comes back. If one is lucky, one is reborn. Some people die and are reborn many times in their lives. For others the ground is too barren and the time too short for rebirth. Part of the process is the growth of a new relationship with the dead, that "véritable ami mort" Saint Exupéry speaks of. Like all gestation, it is a slow dark wordless process. While it is taking place one is painfully vulnerable. One must guard and protect the new life growing within-- like a child.
One must grieve, and one must go through periods of numbness that are harder to bear than grief. One must refuse the easy escapes offered by habit and human tradition. The first and most common offerings of family and friends are always distractions ("Take her out"--"Get her away" --"Change the scene"--"Bring in people to cheer her up"--"Don't let her sit and mourn" [when it is mourning one needs]).
On the other hand, there is the temptation to self-pity or glorification of grief. "I will instruct my sorrows to be proud," Constance cries in a magnificent speech in Shakespeare's King John. Despite her words, there is no aristocracy of grief. Grief is a great leveler. There is no highroad out.Courage is a first step, but simply to bear the blow bravely is not enough. Stoicism is courageous, but it is only a halfway house on the long road. It is a shield, permissible for a short time only.
In the end, one has to discard shields and remain open and vulnerable. Otherwise, scar tissue will seal off the wound and no growth will follow. To grow, to be reborn, one must remain vulnerable-- open to love but also hideously open to the possibility of more suffering.
--Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001 ), Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead (1932). She and her husband, the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, suffered the kidnapping and murder of their first child, not yet two, under the glare of worldwide publicity in 1932.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
"How odd that if we reject what is painful, we find only more pain, but if we embrace what is within us - if we peer fearlessly into the shadows, we stumble upon the light. "The only true wisdom lives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and can be reached only through suffering."
The great loneliness - like the loneliness a caterpillar endures when she wraps herself in a silky shroud and begins the long transformation from chrysalis to butterfly. It seems that we too must go through such a time, when life as we have known it is over - when being a caterpillar feels somehow false and yet we don't know who we are supposed to become. All we know is that something bigger is calling us to change. And though we must make the journey alone, and even if suffering is our only companion, soon enough we will become a butterfly, soon enough we will taste the rapture of being alive."
Today's workout: None - the hour rapidly approaches for the race. Instead of doing my 30 minute cross training today I chose to visit the Peta headquarters. I am running this race in honor of Kristy, but I am also raising money and awareness for one of her passions - animal rights and compassion. The workout can wait for tomorrow!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Kristy and her sister Laurissa
This morning I watched an episode of Anne of Green Gables. This was one of Kristy's all time favorites. About a young girl who was adopted by an older woman back in the early 1900's. Anne was an extremely outspoken and sensitive girl. When she arrived at Green Gables (small working farm) she was nearly turned away because as she soon found out, she was supposed to be a boy. Back then a girl was not considered to be as valuable as a boy and of course they were even less valuable if opinionated. Anne proved to have a very strong sense of self which continued to land her in trouble. The story of Anne of Green Gables is one of a girl over coming adversity after adversity by sheer force of will and character of heart.
In one scene her teacher tells her "the truth will set you free." This point is constantly in play within Anne's life and ultimately serves her well. The truth was not always easy or timely though. I witnessed this girl's search for love and affection and my heart ached for Kristy. I desperately wished I could go back in time and lavish my love and attention on her. I know I could have done better. There were so many lost opportunities and things I wish I had known when Kristy was still a little girl.
My heart was aching as I remembered Kristy growing up. But as I was sobbing a thought came to me. It was really just a feeling at first. When I allowed it to come to the surface I realized the truth of it. I have always loved Kristy with the same strength and fervor. Time did not always allow me to show it every second of the day, but my love was constant and unwavering. To think Kristy did not know this or feel this love would be a disservice to her. Indeed it would mean she was not able to discern these things - but the truth of the matter is her ability to do just this is what I loved so much about her.
Kristy was a sensitive, kind, caring and empathetic soul. She was also stubborn, opinionated and resourceful. I felt one with her - and of course she knew this! How could she not? Is there any greater comfort than this? I saw her and I know she saw me. In our last years as adults together we became very close and had many meaningful discussions which are a constant reminder to me now.
How can I still be crying - these are really tears of joy and love for my own Anne of Green Gables. The truth is of course, she knew how much I loved her. I think this is what can ultimately set me free.
Today's workout: This is the last week so I am in a reduced workout mode. Today was just 3 miles on the treadmill.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Sometimes you are fortunate enough to read a book which can truly change your perception. This has happened to me a few times but when it does you feel a shift in the way you see yourself and your place in the universe.
I am a fan of Oprah. Through the years I have read many of the books she has recommended and even shared them with Kristy. Not too long ago I saw an interview on the Oprah show with a man named Eckhart Tolle, who was touted as a contemporary spiritual teacher. I was intrigued by what he said and wrote his name down on a piece of paper along with the name of his book, "A New Earth".
Well circumstances intervened and I soon forgot about the book and it's perceived importance. But wait a minute! Last week I found the little scrap of paper with his name scrawled on it and decided it was time to read his book. Let me state the obvious by saying I am in serious need of spiritual encouragement at this time in my life.
This is what Tolle has to say on the paradox of time: "On the surface, the present moment is "what happens." Since what happens changes continuously, it seems that every day of your life consists of thousands of moments in which different things happen. Time is seen as the endless succession of moments, some "good", some "bad." Yet, if you look more closely, that is to say, through your own immediate experience, you find that there are not many moments at all. You discover that there is only ever this moment. Life is always now. Your entire life unfolds in this constant NOW. Even past or future moments only exist when you remember or anticipate them, and you do so by thinking about them in the only moment there is: this one.
Why does it appear then as if there were many moments? Because the present moment is confused with what happens, confused with content. The space of Now is confused with what happens in that space. The confusion of the present moment with content gives rise not only to the illusion of time, but also to the illusion of ego. Everything seems to be subject to time, yet it all happens in the Now. That is the paradox.
Wherever you look there is plenty of circumstantial evidence for the reality of time - a rotting apple, your face in the bathroom mirror compared to your face in a photo taken thirty years ago - yet you never find any direct evidence, you never experience time itself. You only ever experience the present moment, or rather what happens in it. If you go by direct evidence only, then there is no time, and the Now is all there ever is.
For the ego to survive, it must make time - past and future - more important than the present moment. So instead of adding time to yourself, remove time. The elimination of time from your consciousness is the elimination of ego. It is the only true spiritual practice."
For myself, I know the feeling I have when I remember Kristy is the most comforting place I can be. This makes her alive. She is present in the now - which is all I have. All I have ever had. When I can no longer think of her only then will she be gone. In this way she is still alive in me, alive in the present moment of me. I never had any more of her than this as the past cannot be more important than the present moment.
Today's workout: 60 minutes on elliptical trainer
Saturday, January 24, 2009
When Kristy was in Junior High she would go to the basketball courts to shoot baskets after school was out. Her first sport was basketball and she was soooo good. She would come home nearly every night with a story of how some group of boys would come onto the court and end up challenging her to a game. She would then proceed to totally shatter their dreams of grandeur. They got beaten by a girl. She was upset that she had to go through this day after day, but I could tell she was inwardly pleased to know she could beat them. There was never any question in her mind. Ever.
I would like to share something Kristy's friend wrote shortly after her death. This man's comments underscore the fact Kristy never bragged about her amazing abilities or accomplishments. In fact she was exactly the opposite. She was always thinking of the other person and how they might feel.
I remember the first time I met Kristy was at Shadow Cliffs for an open water swim. I had fins on so I could take it easy, or so I thought. Even with my fins, I felt like I was stopped in the water while Kristy would fly by me like a missile and then zoom back by me the other way so we wouldn't get too far apart.After the swim, I learned that she did triathlons and was going to ride her Cervelo for a brick. I mentioned that I also do triathlons and we decided to go for a run after our next swim. I'm a much stronger runner than a swimmer so I figured I'd be able to hold my own when we did the run. WRONG! Once again, I felt like I was standing still.
Of course, cycling is my best event so the next time we swam the open waters of Shadow Cliffs we decided to ride our bikes afterwards. Although I was getting a pretty good idea that I was outclassed I just knew I'd be able to hang with her now. You guessed it...wrong again.
Although we had shared quite a bit of conversation throughout our few training sessions together, it took Google for me to learn that she was a professional triathlete and had just recently won the Auburn International Triathlon! She was a wonderfully friendly person with an incredible sense of humor and I couldn't help but give her a bad time that she was making a joke out of me, a middle of the pack age grouper. :-) She will be sorely missed. The only solace I can find is that she died doing what she loved doing and most people will live twice as long or longer and never achieve half as much as she did. I can't say rest in peace because I'm sure that rather than resting she's probably tearing it up up there like she did down here. Bless you Kristy.
George Brumm (Fremont, CA)
Friday, January 23, 2009
The following entry was written yesterday by a man who never met Kristy but knew of her from fellow riders. The photo above had a caption written by Kristy which said, "Ouch". She would never show it when she was hurting as the following confirms.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Take this kiss upon the brow!
I stand amid the roar
Kristy shared the first part of the poem with her friend Catherine. But she left out the second part. It seems to me as if the second part could be my reply. I must open my hand. But there remains the roar.
Today's workout: 6 miles on the treadmill. Still running an 11 minute mile. Darn!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
As I speed by this morning I can hear her saying it. At this moment I know what she is thinking. She is caught up in the glory of being alive, of doing what you want with your life, of accepting no boundaries; the glory of being Kristy.
I smile and my heart swells with love and pride. In this moment I see her and hear her as she laughs out loud. She is screaming -- glorious!
Today's workout: 6 mile run at lake
Monday, January 19, 2009
-- Kristianna Gough
Sunday, January 18, 2009
One of my favorite presents from Kristy was the Ironman watch she won in Hawaii. She gave it to me with this sweet little note and of course - some of the coveted ginger candy! To me the note is much more precious than the watch but I can't wear it, so the watch will have to do.
I am thinking about you today. My birthday just isn't the same without you. You were the greatest gift ever. Thank you for being you.
Today's workout: 60 minutes cross training on bike. I need to get some ice bags for my knees.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Kristy with her camera
Someone said grief is an expression of how well you loved. I think it is also a place that is hard to get out of once you enter. It is deciding to pick up the broken pieces of the picture you once had in your mind and accept the fact it can no longer be the same picture. The picture you had of your family and it's future together that has forever changed.
I am hopeful I will be able to accept this different picture. That I can hang it on the wall and someday embrace it. It's the difference between breaking down and breaking open. Getting past the feeling of being a failure. The guilt of surviving when your whole future was based upon what was in this picture. The picture of what I felt was my future.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Kristy sits on the sofa with Jack where they watched many movies together
Last night I watched a show on Masterpiece Theater by Charles Dickens entitled Bleak House. It was one Kristy and I had seen many times before. I was reminded again how much she liked this genre of film. But not only did she like Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Jane Eyre - she loved all of Clint Eastwood's movies, like Dirty Harry and The Good the Bad and the Ugly. One day she and I watched the Gladiator. Afterwards she went out and bought the CD. She loved movies dealing with issues of fairness, conviction, retribution and ultimate victory over oppression. When the little guy came out on top she was the one cheering the loudest!
One of her favorite books was The Count of Monte Cristo. One year she gave me her old paperback copy. It had been read many times and was in pretty sorry shape. She looked at me and said, "You have no idea how special this book is to me... I want you to have it." I was honored more than I can say. Since then I have read it many times.
A few years later I gave her the Count of Monte Cristo video series which had just come out on PBS. It starred Gerard Depardieu, another favorite. Some days I would walk into the living room and she would be curled up on the sofa with the room all dark - watching intently. These types of movies would always make us both cry. And even though she was "all grown up" she still would watch her Anne of Green Gables.
I was thinking about this today and was reminded of an anecdote I read called "Personal Touch":
Dr. Charles Dickson tells a of man who stopped at a flower shop to have flowers wired to his mother 200 miles away. As he left, he noticed a little girl sobbing on the curb in front of the shop. When he inquired what was wrong, she explained that she wanted to buy a rose for her mother, but it cost $2.00 and she only had 75 cents. He bought the rose for the girl and offered her a ride home. She agreed if he would also take her to her mother. She directed him to a cemetery where she placed the rose on a freshly dug grave. The man returned to the flower shop and cancelled the order. Instead, he got in his car and drove 200 miles to his mother's home to personally deliver a bouquet of local flowers.
Time is short. How many chances do we have left?
Today's workout: 7 miles at the lake. It was beautiful and the weather was just right. I was tired and ran slow. I now know better than to eat two bowls of oatmeal and then try to run. But I finished!
Mahatma Gandhi was teaching one day, and a woman in the crowd said to him, "But Gandhiji, what you're saying today is not what you said before!" Gandhi replied, "Madame, it is not my aim to speak the truth as I may have spoken it on a previous occasion, but to move from truth to truth, and speak the truth as I now know it." - From the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi
Thursday, January 15, 2009
This birthday card was given to me by Kristy on January 18, 2006. The envelope is my favorite part - it's all about our favorite subject - candy! The individually wrapped candy on the envelope is taunting me:
- Eat me!
- Eat me now!
- What are you waiting for?!
- You'll live longer!
- OK, so that's BS - but eat me anyway
- Are you stupid? EAT me!
- Are we still having this conversation?
Inside the card is a drawing of a dog sitting on a sofa. He has a big grin on his face. Underneath the dog it says, "If you ever thought too much about all the places in your home your pet has touched with his naked butt, you'd have to move." The inside concludes, "Hope you find a nice place to eat your cake. Happy Birthday".
Kristy writes inside, "Hey little lady - Jack and Kharma approved this card. You will have to sniff it to find out where they left their "mark". I hope the chocolate keeps you youthful and happy."
Kristy and I both sat down and ate the chocolates. What else could we do?
Agreeing, the sultan gave the boy his swiftest horse. When he left, the ruler angrily stalked into his garden and demanded to know of Death how he dared to intimidate the son of the sultan.
Death listened, astonished, and answered, "I assure you I did not threaten your son. I only threw up my arms in surprise at seeing him here because I have a rendezvous with him tonight in Bagdad."
The sultan, the most powerful man in his country, knew then what bereaved parents have since learned. There are certain things we are powerless to change.
Because the death of a child, and its accompanying feeling of powerlessness, go against the most basic of parental instincts - that of protecting our offspring - the burden this emotion places upon us is doubly great. Faced with such a catastrophic finality, we bereaved parents all too often believe we should have been able to avert the tragedy. When the feeling of powerlessness sets in, we find ourselves in the sorry situation of having to deal not only with our bereavement but also with our inability to have prevented it.
Powerlessness is one of the true quagmires of grief that we will encounter and one of the most painful stages in coming to terms with grief. We can measure the importance of coping with powerlessness by the sheer weight of its difficulty.
The above is an expert from a book by Harriet Sarnoff Scriff, "The Bereaved Parent". The feeling of powerlessness she describes here is so strong it does not let go. Even months after Kristy's death it still has me in its grip. Why didn't I talk with her more about her views on death - because now I will never know the answer to some of my questions. Why didn't I hug her every day, why didn't I call her back that one time. I left her a message on Friday night and on Sunday she was dead. Why didn't I say then what I was going to tell her when she called back? And the biggest, baddest one of all. The one I can't stop asking myself - why wasn't I with her when she died?
For me I think running is not just a way to fill my days with a positive, goal oriented activity but it is allowing me to feel more in control. To hold back this feeling of powerlessness for a short time. I can do something after all. I can honor her life in some small way. It's what I have at this moment and I am hanging on to it with everything I have.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
If I had a wish bird I would wish that I could make the world stop. Then I would eat all of the candy in the world. Then I'd wish I could fly. Then I could go on the roof and if my brother told I would fly away. But what would happen if I fell and went casplat. Or got too fat and died right smack on the ground!
One day I died but God sent me back. When I came back boy was I skinny, so I went back to the candy store to be normal weight. I went home but was so tired I could not talk to the wish bird. She could not start the world again.
But one hour I had the courage to get to the wish bird and change the world to normal. I got up and walked to the bird. I wished that the world would be normal. And it was.
Today's workout: 13 mile run at the lake. Now I know for sure I can do the distance. The first mile my legs were stiff. Miles 3 and 4 were the best. After 6 miles I was tired but decided I needed to stop thinking about finishing and just enjoy the experience. This made all the difference and the next 6 were very doable. The last miles included some steep hills which made it a challenge. Looking forward to February 1st!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
with almonds or without
Only 45 cents .............Chew-em!
Dear Mr. Gooey,
I would like you to consider my new candy bar, Chew-eez. As seen above, it comes with or without almonds. It's a chocolate bar with a chewy inside. And it will cost 45 cents. It is similar to the Mound Bars and will be divided into three bite size bars of chocolate Chew-eez. We have already made a batch and they are very smooth and satisfying. I think they will be a hit. Please write your opinion and any recommendations you might have. Here are the ingredients:
milk chocolate, milk, caramel, sugar, corn syrup, polly sentric acid, (almonds,) coconut, and other secret ingredients.
The following is a commercal Kristy thought up to advertise her candy:
Setting: Milk chocolate being poured over the chewy, appetizing, middle - then slowly bent to let the caramel stretch. Well, teasing the audience!
Speaker: "Chew-eez satisfies that little hunger in the bottom of your stomach, and at only 45 cents it's a real bargain! So the next time you just happen to be at the candy/supermarket store, ask for Chew-eez, the satisfier!"
Written and illustrated by Kristy Gough, age 11
Two years ago my sister Kim came to visit. All three of us decided to go to San Francisco. Kristy said she would drive which was a big relief to me as I am not too comfortable driving in the city. Even though we live so close to San Francisco I never go because traffic is so hectic.
It was your 28th birthday! I remember trying to navigate with a map while you drove. You never got flustered! I admired this so much about you. We got lost on lots of one-way streets and saw some pretty incredible things. We also did some sight seeing but then decided to go to a large sports apparel store where you said they were having a huge sale. We had to park far away - but it was such a beautiful sunny day we didn't care.
You didn't have much spending cash and I wanted to buy you something for your birthday. You really liked this beige pair of cropped pants but were afraid they were too expensive. You would not let me buy them for you, so I made a deal with you. If they were on sale I would get them - and if not you would just put them back. I was so happy when we found out they were on sale because I so wanted you to have them.
Now - years later - I have been packing your things away. My sister Kim was here for awhile helping me. She saw before I did the beige pants. As soon as I did it all came crashing back in on me. I can still see you in these sweet, feminine pants. The ones with the little embroidered blue flowers around the knees. Kim said maybe I should wear them. I said I could never put them on. But who knows, maybe someday I will find the strength.
Every now and then I bring the pants out again so I can hold them to my cheek and remember. I miss you so.
"So here I sit trying to decide what I want to do. My life will never be as sweet now that you are gone. You always made things bearable. When I wanted to talk at night I would just pick up the phone and call you. The same with you. I was always amazed at how much love you showed me. I feel so alone now. I really cannot say for sure I want to live in a world without you.
Now that it's been a month most people have stopped calling. Everyone seems to be getting back to 'normal'. I know you would not approve of me wallowing in such self pity. But you did not need me as much as I needed you. All I can do now is write to you as if you can still hear me.
Why can't I just pretend you are on a trip somewhere and that you'll be back soon. Why can't I believe there's a God and I will see you again? If I had only known that day would be the last time I would see you alive, I would have thrown myself in front of your car before you drove away from the house.
Remember when you were at the grocery store (Trader Joe's) and your car would not start? You called me from the parking lot and I got on the computer to trouble shoot the problem while you waited for AAA. It was a common problem with that model. Well they weren't able to get it started either so they towed it to a gas station near the house. You were so concerned that you were inconveniencing people at the store by taking up a parking place for such a long time. That's the type of person you had become!
Now I am faced with longing for you the rest of my life. What if you had not been born? I'm not sure I can answer this question. Just as I cannot answer whether I want to be in a world without you in it."
Monday, January 12, 2009
Click on the title to see the video on You Tube
Not too long ago we decided to look for a dog to keep our first dog Karma company. Karma is a small Cairn terrier so I began looking for a suitable match for her. My search led me to Furry Friends Rescue. http://www.furryfriendsrescue.org/
Kristy came with me to our dogie interview. This is how we first met Jack. Jack was a scared little dog with hardly any fur. He had been found wandering the streets in a nearby town. For me it was love at first sight, but Kristy was skeptical. Jack was not warm and cuddly and had many issues.
Before too long Jack had won Kristy over. She could not get enough of him and called him "Yackers". Kristy is the one who showed me what a "real" dog wants when you take him for a walk! Jack was insecure and aggressive with other dogs when on a leash. So we would take him far into the countryside to a cow pasture and let him run free. We would then take turns calling him and he would run back and forth between the two of us! It was hilarious - but he never got tired!
Jack's first encounter with a cow was memorable. At first he did not know what to do but soon decided cows were docile enough to attack. He actually chased a big black bull up and down the hill one day much to our horror! Jack only weighs about 11 pounds and was no match for a stray hoof. When we finally coaxed him to come back we made sure he was always on a leash whenever we were around any cows.
I made this video for Kristy. She loved it! It's all about her and Jack.
Today's workout: 7 mile run at the lake. I am coming down with a cold. This was a hard run and very slow. Maybe I will take it easy tomorrow.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Kristy (middle rider in red jersey) waits patiently for the Cherry Pie race to begin. She went on to win the race along with all the sprints. She walked away with every prize (including the Cherry Pie)! She was never able to redeem some of her prizes - time was just too short.
I didn’t know Kristy personally, but knew that she was the focus of my team’s competitive “fear” and inspiration. Hence, we intensely discussed on our team forums whether Kristy would be racing with us during our first “real” road race of the season, Snelling, and debated how to collectively (I’m talking 10 women here) compete against her in the race. Imagine the small sigh of relief when we found out she had upgraded to the next category up.
It’s only with Kristy’s passing that I have learned more about who she was, outside of that symbolic woman at the start of every race season she represented to me. Knowing she was my peer, if only for a moment, has made this tragedy all the more difficult to bear, but just as much, it has made it all the more important to carry on in her name. My heart goes out to Kristy’s family, friends and gracious Third Pillar teammates. You - and Kristy - are in my thoughts. Ride free, my friend.
women's road team manager,
Roaring Mouse Cycles
Today's workout: 60 minutes cross training. I am gearing up for next week which will be the hardest training week to date. I will be running the full race distance of 13 miles. After this the next two weeks will be easier in preparation for the race - just two short weeks away!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
When Kristy returned she brought with her four different Protective Eyes! She said it was such a big thing there, they sold so many variations of it in the market she couldn't resist buying as many as possible. The others were on necklaces. The largest one has been hanging outside in our garden among purple and yellow flowers ever since. The blue light that shines from it when the sun hits it in the morning is magical.
Kristy told me it was sad to have to pretend she was not an American while she was in Turkey. At the time it was really not safe to travel but she and her boyfriend Clas had a special place to stay. When they went out into the villages she would try not to speak and most thought she was Swedish (like Clas). This was much safer for them. All the traveling she did gave her a unique perspective on the world. She was much more informed than most and much more compassionate. She was always thankful for what she had.
Today I get to look at the sun shinning through the Protective Eye. I can't say it protected Kristy. But then how can I know for sure. I'm not sure what to think, really. It does seem comforting to look at an object so beautiful and remember the joy she gave me. That sparkle in her eyes, that flash of wit. We spent many hours in the garden together. All I know for certain is that any little spark of beauty is appreciated and I will never take it down.
Today's workout: 7 miles on treadmill at the gym. The tempo runs are working! Today my 7 miles were 2 minutes faster than the last 7 miles on Tuesday.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Dear Kristy’s Family,
One morning four or five months ago at The Five Rings gym I was alone with Kristy. Vladimir gave us a long weight circuit set and went back to his desk, and as we rotated between the stations we talked. It was the only time I ever talked to her alone at length, and the sincerity of the things she said made them especially poignant. I am 55 and confessed to her my dwindling motivation to exercise because the best I could do at my age was slow the decline.
She paused and replied that for her training and racing were the way she expressed herself. She rephrased it three times, as though the idea was taking better shape each time she said it. Without saying more she made me realize why I was focusing on the wrong thing. I think she meant to tell me that the effort and the process are themselves the reward. The power of her will to succeed was itself the expression of inner spirit and the truest victory.
I will never forget this lesson from Kristy. Kristy was the essence of life and youth and beauty. All of the lives she touched are richer for it.
Two things I remember were from the same ride around Brisbane a few weeks back.
1. Sam was working for me and Kristy was another "team" for that exercise. Sam laid it down up the hill and I was struggling to stay on his wheel, when I noticed Kristy with only a slight purse to her lips and doing most of her breathing through her nose. She turned up the pace and it was only her and I left. I jumped out of the saddle and just managed to pip her at the line. She had seen me jump and was sitting on my wheel, in the saddle just matching my pace, while I was out of saddle trying to get every ounce of power I could. She rode by my just after the finish line and said "that was good, I'm not a sprinter or anything". Well I am a sprinter and I was near my max output. Kristy wasn't sprinting, she was just riding on my wheel calm as you like.
2. On that same ride we were stopping after each lap to discuss strategy and so on. After one lap Kristy rolled up and said, "Are we going to keep going or do we need to stop and chat ." Hilarious... The whole rest of ride we joked about needing to express our feelings. She was awesome, funny and talented. The complete package...
Anthony Borba, Third Pillar
You never know when sadness is going to pounce. It's like a ton of bricks just waiting to fall. It could be a piece of mail addressed to Kristianna Gough. It could be a song you listened to together. It could be a half empty box of cereal left from her last visit. I know better than to read her cards and letters. I save this for a day when I am feeling particularly strong. Or when I have totally given up and have surrendered to the sadness.
Odd things give me comfort. Like the list of clothing she was going to order by catalogue - she wrote it down on a piece of paper that was left lying next to her bed. I like to look at the list and imagine how she decided on each piece of clothing. I guess it's not too hard to imagine why I have decided to wear her clothing when running. The things we bought together have a special meaning. When we went shopping together we liked to frequent the local Goodwill Store and spend hours searching for hidden treasures.
Some things are still just too hard for me to do. There is a local health food store where we used to shop. Kristy made friends with one of the girls who works there. She even went over to her house and helped her paint one day. I still can't bring myself to go back to this store. This is where she used to buy candied ginger and parcel it out to me piece by piece. (We had a thing about sweets...) I wonder if they know what happened to her, why she all of a sudden just disappeared?
Today I passed a store we went to in order to find clothing for her to wear to her grandmother's funeral. She tried them on and even had me stay in the dressing room with her so I could give her my opinion. She looked beautiful I must say. One thing about Kristy - she made it a point to be extra nice to any salesperson. She and my father were so alike in this way.
On the way home I passed the grade school she went to. Where she learned to play violin and give summer concerts with her schoolmates. I passed the Jr. High where she played on the basketball team and won the Edgar Cerf award for good sportsmanship. Thankfully, the High School was not on my way home...
I suppose I should be glad I can still cry. That the pain can stop me in my tracks. The gasp that follows is like a shot to the heart.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
This letter was written by a competing bicyclist who met Kristy for the first time in 2008 during a race.
I'll never forget the first time I saw Kristy this season; it was at Cantua Creek, my first race of the year. Quiet, reserved, focused, she sat calmly on her bike while we all chatted and joked around, as the field for Cat 4 women was pretty small that day. Some of the women were asking each other who she was, where she came from, and someone knew & mentioned she was a professional triathlete. We had fun that first windy lap, and Kristy hung in there with us long enough to rotate through the pace line up to the turn around.
After that, she must have finally been bored with the pace AND the talking, because as we approached the first of two turn arounds, in one dramatic turn of the wheels, she was GONE. And I mean, "see you later, I'm outta here, gone." My team mate yelled out jokingly, "hey, where does she think she's going?" And we all laughed, knowing that we'd just been witness to something pretty spectacular. Later, she competed against us at Cherry Pie, and I saw her again at Snelling.
The last time I saw Kristy was bright and early Saturday, the morning of Menlo Park Grand Prix. I did the medical team support for the day and was unloading my medical supplies. She rolled by on her bike and looked straight at me; I said hi, she said hi and had that look on her face like, "how do I know you?" And that was it.
She probably didn't remember it was me, to her immediate left on the pace line that morning at Cantua Creek, singing the first few versus of the Italian song, Ave Maria. But I do. I'll never forget that, or forget her.
My heart aches for her mother and father, as I have an adult son that I cherish with all of my being. I offer you and your family my deepest compassion for your loss and grief.
Katherine Hamilton, RN MFTCode Three Racing
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I dream of Kristy - again. And again she comes back to life and we are together. I dream about her at least once a week since March. This is the third time she has "come back to life". In the first of these dreams I found her in a small cabin out in the woods where a man had taken her after her accident for her to recover. I was so upset when I found out she had been alive this whole time and didn't tell me somehow. I wanted to tell her how hard things had been for me, and how I had suffered thinking she was dead. But I couldn't really communicate with her... something was wrong. She was so silent and distant. I awoke sobbing and cried many tears for days...
In the second one, she came back and we went down to a small bridge that was flowing over a little creek in the forest. We hung out there together for many hours. She told me that she was done with being dead and was back now. Our talking was so relaxed and natural. It felt like we have always been together, just as it did in life. We didn't need to exchange many words and our understanding was complete. I was so content to be with her. The rest of the world didn't matter. We stayed there until dark and into the early hours of the dark morning and then we went to see our Grandmother, Zee. No one else had seen her yet and we went there. We walked a long way in the dark. When we got there, Zee and Karen appeared in a balcony that we were climbing up to and they gushed over Kristy for a long time, not even noticing me standing there. They touched her face, hair and hands as I stood, invisible, watching life and family take my sister back.
Now, here in the southern most part of Mexico, I dream her alive again. She is at the Broadmoor house and has come back to us from the world of the dead. We are all gathered around her as if she is some celebrity, sitting in a wooden chair in the center of the small bedroom. I eventually wrap my arms around her waist and weep. I am releasing the tears I held inside when I thought that I had all the days of my life ahead of me to face without her. Now she was here and I could breathe again and let those tears fall, forever gone. My sister is back. But there was work to do - a forest fire had started and they needed my help to put it out... of course, I couldn't do anything, couldn't leave Kristy's side.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I thought I might post a few of the cards Kristy sent me through the years. I especially liked this one. In case you can't make out the writing, the outside says: "Happy Birthday Mom - From your sweet, precious angel, Your demure, delicate flower...Your living, breathing example of sugar and spice and everything nice!"
On the inside is a little bird saying: "Whaddaya mean, you don't know anybody like that...It's me, your daughter!! (Geez, Mom...ain't it obvious?) Anyway, Have a Good One."
The little bird has something written by Kristy above it: "Check out the glitter! I went all out!" At the bottom of the card Kristy wrote:
"I just talked to you. I did get this card in time, but the sending thing always presents a major problem... I'm glad to hear you are focusing more on your health! That should help me have decades of opportunities to get this right! Love, Kristy"
It's bitter sweet to look back on this now and remember our conversations. She was trying to get me to improve my health so I would be sure to be around for a long time. This would enable her to have the "decades" to get the "sending thing" right. It never even crossed my mind that I might lose her one day.
I am thankful for every little thing I have which used to be hers. They serve as a catalyst for the memories I wish to never forget. Right after she died I remembered a short video I shot of her on my new digital camera. She was dancing in the kitchen with her boyfriend Clas. It was so sweet, and I showed it to them. As time went on it eventually was replaced by other photos and must have been erased at some point. When I couldn't find it I remember feeling hysterical - looking everywhere for the video clip. If I could only find it I would still have something. I could watch it over and over. And why did I erase her phone messages? Why didn't I keep at least one of them?
Through the years I have kept every single card or letter she had ever sent to me. When I was cleaning out the attic a few months ago I found a shoe box. I opened it and found she had kept every one of my letters as well.
Yes, you were my demure, delicate flower. My precious angel, my living example of sugar and spice and everything nice.
Today's workout: I was happy to find that eating half a pizza last night gave me renewed energy for my workout this morning. 7 miles on the treadmill followed by stretching.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Kristy Gough was a sight to behold on a bicycle. Her upper body was as still as an untouched glass of water. While below, her tanned muscular legs were just tapping out a beautiful tempo cadence. This is the vision her friends, family, and team will always remember and cherish. She was one of the kindest, and strongest women to have ever graced the Peloton. In the very large and diverse world of Cycling her indomitable spirit was both admirable and infectious. At the Five Ring Cycling Center where Kristy could be found completing a strenuous workout, she showed a compassion that would inspire others around her. She'd often be seen riding the rollers, patting a struggling rider on the back, and motivating them to complete their tasks.
Kristy would win the primes, as well as the race. Yet, it was never followed with boasting or bragging, but rather modesty, heart, and compassion. Kristy even said at one point that she felt bad for winning so often, but truly, she never had anything to feel bad about. She worked for everything she wanted, and she did it with charisma, class, and charm. She showed more heart then any member of her team. As one fellow team mate so perfectly put it, "You couldn't help but be a fan". She was one woman among a group full of men, and yet they all looked up to her.
Kristy was always treated as one of the guys, when a boyish joke was thrown her way, she managed to spin it back and throw every one of them off balance. Of course she did it with a smile that let you know she had you cornered but in a playful, kind and caring way. With the Olympic Trials just around the corner it was the hopes of many that she'd make it.
The loss of Kristy Gough is a heartfelt one, a true tragedy that is almost too unreal to believe. Her life touched all of those that were ever graced with her presence. She rides on in the hearts of those who loved and cared for her, and she'll never be forgotten.
-written by "one of the guys"
The Olympic Committee thought Kristy would have made it as well. Soon after her death they awarded her family the Olympic Flag in her honor as a testimony to her talent and dedication. It now hangs in the gym where she was "just one of the guys".
Today's workout: Even though the day is not yet over I can tell I do not have it in me to leave the house.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
We would talk about this every now and then. She and I both had a love for art and for independent physical endeavors. We didn't like team sports much but we liked running, exercising and bicycling. When our family was younger and we lived in Modesto I used to ride my bike to work. I was also an avid wind surfer. As the years passed we both developed a sort of fulfillment in the other's successes. She helped me in my art career and admired my art work. I helped her in her athletic career and admired her achievements. We were constantly comparing and contrasting the similarities of the two passions.
So much of what one does is hard work and dedication. But there is always that wild card lurking - when something happens to throw everything off. This happened to each of us. We knew it happened and that it would continue to happen. In previous times it used to bother Kristy quite a bit. But during her last year she had come to experience a great calming peace by accepting it's inevitability. The inevitability of impermanence. Of all things changing and nothing being certain. This is what she was teaching me.
About four months before Kristy died she gave me a book by Pema Chodron, entitled: "When Things Fall Apart". It was changing her life she said. And so it was. I could see the difference almost immediately. She was so open and compassionate - and so at peace. When I first walked into her room after she was gone I saw this book by her bed. I opened it to this passage:
"Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don't struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality. Many cultures celebrate this connectedness. There are ceremonies making all the transitions of life from birth to death, as well as meetings and partings, going into battle, losing the battle, and winning the battle. We too could acknowledge, respect, and celebrate impermanence.
But what about suffering? Why would we celebrate suffering? Doesn't that sound masochistic? Our suffering is based so much on our fear of impermanence. Our pain is so rooted in our one-sided, lopsided view of reality. Who ever got the idea that we could have pleasure without pain? It's promoted rather widely in this world, and we buy it. But pain and pleasure go together; they are inseparable. They can be celebrated. They are ordinary. Birth is painful and delightful. Death is painful and delightful. Everything that ends is also the beginning of something else. Pain is not a punishment; pleasure is not a reward."
I am trying Kristy - but I miss you so much.
Today's workout: 70 minutes cross training at gym.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
this finality is so acute
it brings all other relationships into focus
the cushion between you and your mortality is gone
grieving this loss is grieving the loss of your own life
and coming to terms with its presence
it becomes an idea that cannot be ignored
she is now and forever living in you
in your eyes and your heart
she is there
and you can tell when you are seeing things
through her eyes
when the feeling of her spirit touches you
in these moments you are overcome
with all the fullness of her presence
as if all your memories of her
were compressed into one, tiny pinhole
a shining light of pure energy
and it is love
it is now your part to take this love
and distribute it by planting her seed
so that she may live again
"The combination of point guard Kristy Gough '96 (new to the school and to the position) and shooting guard Allison Buchko '94 presented real problems for the competition. Kristy Gough '96 was elected to the All League Team at the recent Independent School League coaches meeting."
Kristy's coach wrote to me in March 1994:
"Kristy is an exceptional athlete and possibly the most naturally gifted player to come to Madeira in some time. She is smart and brave. I was proud of her for handling the pressure of displacing a senior and coming into the point-guard position at mid-season. She is learning to lead a team. To reach her potential, however, she is going to have to work harder to be part of the team when her natural inclination is to be alone. Above all, she must develop the patience with herself and tolerance of others needed for leadership. As her character on and off the court develops, there will be no stopping her. I am thrilled by the prospect of watching her develop."
Indeed these words would prove to be prophetic. As Kristy grew in her abilities she also discovered many things about herself which she used to her advantage. She was her own harshest critic and at the same time her own prime motivator. When she witnessed her first Iron Man race on television she instinctively knew this was for her. She never tired of perfecting herself in the sport and found it to be the greatest of mental and physical challenges. One in which she never, ever, grew tired.
I am thankful for all the mentoring she received when she was a young woman searching for a way to express herself. Kristy would never have stopped pushing herself to achieve more. I admire her more and more every day. As I run each day and push myself towards a goal I realise how much just the sport of running takes. There are so many silent moments where you ask yourself to give more, push harder, to raise the bar once more. And you never give up. Whenever I feel I am about ready to stop I always think of Kristy and her indomitable spirit. And I try to go forward with the grace and goodness she always chose to give others.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Kristy puts a new roof on the house
Kristy was truly a radical feminist in her own right though she would never chose those words or identify as such. She would school anyone who showed ego or disrespect, but always in a subtle, non-presuming or unpretentious way. She was fiercely independent and resourceful. (I'll never forget calling her one day to find out that she was taking a break from re-roofing her house and was simultaneously reading a how-to book on roofing and "Robinson Crusoe".)
She had such courage of conviction and such strength in body, mind, and spirit. While many may have seen an INITIALLY stoic and hard exterior, Kristy was so loving, deeply caring, and insightful. Besides being an incredible athlete, she was also extremely bright, insightful, and beautiful - inside and out. In addition to having an acerbic wit, she was always very truthful, very real, and forthright. She called things like she saw them; I always took her advice to heart and sought her opinion in times of happiness and drama. She had wisdom far beyond her years. But in all this, she had the ability to laugh at herself, reminding me also not to take myself too seriously. I admired her humility and her talent, and sought her out when I needed "the truth."
She leaves a deep void that will never be filled.I send my greatest condolences to Kristy's family and those touched by her in ways big and small. I wish my words could do more justice to the incredible person she was but I am afraid they are failing me now.
Kristianna, you will be so missed! - Gabrielle