The following entries (from beginning runner to half marathon finisher) represents a continuing journey of tremendous grief and sorrow, and of transformation - largely through the therapeutic power of running. The sorrow that has broken my heart open wide has in time allowed me to experience the beauty of being in the present moment. And of course, without the support of family and friends to guide me, I would not have made it this far.

If you have lost someone in your life, I offer these words and verse (some Kristy's, some mine and others) with the hope it may touch your heart and help you heal.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Girl lithe and tawny, the sun that forms
the fruits, that plumps the grains, that curls seaweeds
filled your body with joy, and your luminous eyes
and your mouth that was the smile of the water.

A black yearning sun is braided into the strands
of your black name, when you stretch your arms.
You play with the sun as with a little brook
and it leaves two dark pools in your eyes.

Girl lithe and tawny, nothing draws me towards you.
Everything bears me farther away, as though you were noon.
You are the frenzied youth of the bee,
the drunkenness of the wave, the power of the wheat-ear.

My somber heart searches for you, nevertheless,
and I love your joyful body, your slender and flowing voice.
Dark butterfly, sweet and definitive
like the wheat-field and the sun, the poppy and the water.

Pablo Neruda

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Kristy was one who was very concerned about what the world was coming to. She hated pollution, she always recycled, and she bought second hand items all the time. Whenever something was not needed she would simply put it in the front yard with a sign on it that said "free". She gave away lots of things this way!

She embraced Obama, although she did not live long enough to see him voted into office. But she did vote for him in the primary. For as long as I can remember Kristy always tried to leave a small footprint. She did not waste and she did not want. She wrote the following:

Most of us yearn for a simpler life. We try to compensate ourselves by taking up gardening, or we take the family camping, all the while wishing that these things were not hobbies and distractions, but the core of our lives. It borders on irony that these feelings exist in almost exactly the same form, if not with more vigor and enthusiasm, than they did over a century ago. It is a lesson in history brought to life.

Just because there is dissatisfaction, there is no reason to believe there will be action. We hear of it historically all the time, we wonder why no one did anything to change the environment; but nothing brings it home like when its happening in our own time.

Who knows, perhaps when our time becomes a "creed outworn", it may be a historical quandary why we let rampant industrialization take over our lives and environments. More likely, this time will be looked back upon with envy, compared to what our future may hold.

Kristy Gough 2000

And she was so right.....

Saturday, June 27, 2009


On June 21 a group of cyclists, including Kristy's team from Third Pillar, rode a portion of the route Kristy took on the day she and Matt Peterson were killed. They asked me to ride with them and I did. Click on the above title to see a short video of the ride. The link will direct you to the Mercury News video web page, where you can pick out the video entitled "Memorial Ride".

Friday, June 26, 2009


Kristy and I play with stray kittens we rescued

Kristy got an A for this poem which was written when she was 17.

Armageddon makes me laugh, don't you see?
It was created to extract an annual fee.
Luckily, these chains have no control over me,
I know that death only releases pee,
And yummy corpse juice, hee hee.

There's no afterlife with noontime tea,
Only a moments shocked regret for faithfully paying the fee.
If you happen to open your eyes and see
Accept my apology in advance, it's free.

Keep them closed, the truth's too bright, said he
If they knew their life was for your comedy,
They could withhold my slippery fee.

You're a greedy bastard, but I admit and do agree.
It's opportune that you do not function from the we.
For an honest life can be so lonely.
A question, though, if you please:
How did you escape the fervor, and why me?

Inspired by Anon
written by Kristy Gough - 1994

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This is such a sad poem so full of longing. I want to cry each time I read it. The last few lines are so beautiful they haunt me and I catch my breath as I hear them in her voice in my mind. She will always be held close and I join her longing each night.

Say no more
Say no more
The words from your mouth
fall on the floor.

Your liquid brown eyes
they hold me at night
My heart beat only
under your sight.

Summer and fall
winter and spring
Each season has passed
I've heard not a thing.

And then there came light
just as you were dark.

Read many books and
wrote reasons down
why I was so lucky
you weren't around.

But my heart has no eyes
nor ears to hear
My words that I sang out
so crystal clear.

I'm forgetting your face
The touch of your hand.

You've got a heart just like mine
from your birthing day.
You've got a piece of my soul
down beneath the waves.

Oh, but I need you
Ah ah ah, I need you

Take me away in the night
to my motherland
Show me the wind in the trees
hold me with my own hands!

-- Kristy Gough


When I was at the Lake a few days ago I wrote down feelings that came to mind as I was walking. I was having a very difficult week and was very down. These ideas seemed so important and crystal clear at the time. Today I read them again and they seem to come from the deepest part of me. I am sharing them as this is part of my journey, and it may be a part of yours.

Don't want others to see me distressed. Would have to say why and how could anyone bear the pain? I feel so alone in it when I talk I try to hide my pain. I am constantly swallowing large, hard lumps. No matter how I try to frame it I know you were not ready to go. How can I let go of what was when without it is emptiness?

The ones who cry with me are the ones who have loved and do love so deeply. It's this all consuming love that allows us to grieve. My tears are still love, with echoes of you.

It was moving underneath my feet but it did not speak to me.


I have found that being completely open and honest (especially if it's uncomfortable) is amazingly liberating. Kristy Gough, 2/2008

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Images of Kristy and me at an Ironman Race together

by Pablo Neruda

I remember you as you were in the last autumn.
You were the gray beret and the still heart.
In your eyes the flames of the twilight fought on.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul.

Clasping my arms like a climbing plant
the leaves garnered your voice, that was slow and at peace.
Bonfire of awe in which my thirst was burning.
Sweet blue hyacinth twisted over my soul.

I feel your eyes traveling, and the autumn is far off:
gray beret, voice of a bird, heart like a house
towards which my deep longings migrated
and my kisses fell, happy as embers.

Sky from a ship. Field from the hills:
Your memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!
Beyond your eyes, farther on, the evenings were blazing.
Dry autumn leaves revolved in your soul.

Your face is my sky and I sip at your memory. Your eyes are everywhere. ----Mom

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Kristy and Laurissa all dressed up

This is a comforting poem. I would like to get to this place. But of course it was written by someone who was still alive. How do we really know what death is? Do some people really have an extra sense? I think Kristy's sister Laurissa may. She is convinced she will be with Kristy again. But it still does not keep us from missing her and what was.

What is Death?
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without affect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.
~ Henry Scott Holland

Saturday, June 20, 2009


In February 2005 Kristy sent the above post card to her Aunt Kim

Hi Kim!

I was thinking about you today. I'm so impressed with your perseverance in school! I wanted to take a moment to lay out a couple of facts:

1. You are awesome

2. I'm here (somewhere in this picture) working toward my own goal. %+) I think you would really like it here. The people here are generally very 'outdoor-minded.' We do some open water swimming around the boats I circled in the picture. Many of the bike routes go up and over the hills and ridge that sit over the bay.

We (my boyfriend Clas, and I) will be heading up to Taupo on Wednesday. Clas is racing Ironman New Zealand on March 5th. He was 2nd last year, and this one promises to be exciting. Check out if you think about it. Hope you are doing well and hope to see you soon!

Love, Kristy

What Kristy didn't mention is that she was first in her age group the year before at the same race. She also set a course record. Even as an amateur she had been faster on the course than any female before her - professional or amateur. It was not like Kristy to boast. She was in fact very proud of her Aunt Kim who had gone to school to get her Masters in Business while working full time.

Kristy admired perseverance. She had a Masters Degree in it.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Kristy underlined this passage in Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison

You just can't fly on off and leave a body he tole me. A human life is precious. You shouldn't fly off and leave it. He meant that if you take a life, then you own it. You responsible for it. You can't get rid of nobody by killing them.

This concept has many implications. What I chose to believe is that we are all connected. What you do and what you say have a lasting effect. You get out of life what you put into it and you are responsible for your actions. There is a consequence for everything. This is the law of the living and the dead, the good and the bad, the conscious and the unconscious.

We are not walking alone.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Kristy and Tanya ride together in New Zealand

Kristy sent me this poem. When I read it now it is of course about her. There are many others in this world who have been touched by Kristy. Our lives will never be the same.

People will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did,
But people will never forget
how you made them feel

- Maya Angelou

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Only weeks before she died, Kristy wrote this to her fellow cycling team mates. She was winning all the races she entered, and winning big. Besides her phenomenal physical abilities, she had cultivated an iron will. When she was a teenager it was not always helpful, but when she channeled it into racing it was everything. This was her edge - she never gave up.

"So I've got this bag of tricks, or I should say trick, which I use at every race. It consists of an early "attack" and then a couple hour time trial. Each time I've done this the pack chases closely for exactly 30-40 min. I am fascinated by their effort, but even more so by their giving up. I'm of the belief that a group that can sustain an effort for 30-40 min can carry on much longer. They simply lose the will. What they might not get is that at each of these races I consider giving up because I am going unsustainably hard, but not making much time.

Point being, the rider putting the hurt on you, even if he/she seems twice as strong is always hurting themselves, and a more enduring will can go a looong way towards bridging the gap."

- Kristy Gough, 2/24/2008

I read this and I was reminded of the Kristy I knew so well. The force of will she had cultivated kept her focused and it never allowed her to give up. All of her life she showed an iron will in everything she did. Even when she didn't do something, it was because she willed it so. When you know how to demand this of yourself it provides a way to "cut out all the jewelry".

Kristy never used adornments. Her beauty was what she was inside, what she had accomplished for herself. Kristy was a force so strong and determined she exuded confidence to everyone with whom she made contact. Not an arrogant confidence, but one clothed in humility and grace. There is such a difference. Never content with what she had accomplished, she was constantly setting the bar higher and higher.

Keep it going Kristy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


In Toni Morrison's book, Kristy underlined the following:

"But if I'm caught I'll just die earlier than I'm supposed to - not better than I'm supposed to. And how I die or when doesn't interest me. What I die for does. Its the same as what I live for."

Kristy died on her bike doing what she lived for. And in the end it was what she died for as well. I think of you out there somewhere, one with the wind. You are still racing - and in my mind you are strong and focused. You never take your eyes off the goal. You never think "I can't do this."

I remember the story you told me of your first Ironman competition in Hawaii. The wind was so strong and fierce. As you rode your bike over the barren lava fields, it blasted against you mile after mile. People were being blown off the road it was so bad. In the back of your mind you were looking forward to making the turn and having the wind at your back. But when you finally made the turn and started back the wind shifted! It slammed you hard - right in the face. At first you were stunned. Then you told me something I will never forget. You lifted both your arms and with clenched fists you yelled at the top of your lungs, "Bring it on!!" You said you were laughing out loud like a deranged person.

I can see you now. And now that I am heading into the wind I need your strength. I have never loved so much nor have I ever lost so much. Strange that you should have taught me both. With your short life you have shown me both how to live and how to die.


A spectacular sunset in New Mexico

I just finished reading "Song of Solomon", by Toni Morrison. Kristy had told me I would like it but I had never gotten around to actually reading the whole book. I could hardly put it down. I finished the last sentence just as the plane set down on my return trip from visiting my sister Kim.

Kristy made a notation of this passage, which I thought was so like her. She was still a teenager when she read this book but even back then she knew what she wanted.

"All Jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Can't nobody fly with all that shit. Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down."

Kristy had certainly given it all up. And man, could she fly!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Kristy was a profoundly gifted person. Not only in her athletic endeavors, but in her mind and heart as well. In this quote from one of her letters it shines through:

"Say you teach yourself to fish in the most pure, untouched waters and you catch beautiful fish with the most delectable flesh. But what happens between meals? And what if something completely out of your control (or the fish, for that matter) happens- A flood, a drought, a foreign algae invasion that wipes out the fish? Only you will remain,the fish and the waters will come and go.

Maybe it's not about where or what you "fish", but more about what's going on inside you when you get what you want, and when you don't."
- Kristy Gough, 2008

How seldom do we get what we want.

Friday, June 12, 2009


"Never taking off the gas is relatively easy when you know it's the only way to the finish, but when there's no finish line--that takes a whole new level of commitment." Kristy Gough, 2008

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Sometime earlier I wrote about how death is seen differently by a mother who has put a child in the ground. I remember also saying I felt "indestructible". When I thought back on this statement I felt it was a little strange and could not quite articulate why I felt this way. When talking about Kristy at her memorial I suddenly just blurted it out. I did not intend to say it. I think this poem explains it better than I...

You have made me indestructible
because with you
I do not end in myself.

Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Poetry is memory bathed in tears.
      Miguel Angel Asturias

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Perhaps reality and unreality
do not exist.
Perhaps it is only a question
of different levels of reality,
some which we do not perceive.
Or of different levels of unreality,
of which we perceive only a few.
Or of different levels
of some unique thing,
which sometimes we see
and sometimes we don't.
-Roberto Juarroz

Elliot  - Thank you for being the unique thing you are and for showing it to me.  

Monday, June 8, 2009


your room has a chair
it sits in the corner
small and light
used and battered

you found it one day
and took it home
one of your few possessions
you used it often

you gave away your things
but kept the chair
I wanted to know why
"It suits me," you said

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I am reaching for you
tears glisten and sparkle
they frame your face
and you shine

Saturday, June 6, 2009


There is a time of evening 
when the prairie is about to say something.
It never says it.
Or perhaps it is constantly saying it 
but we never hear it,
or we hear it, 
but it is as inexpressible 
as a piece of music.

- Jorge Luis Borges

This feeling happens to me when I least expect it. And I am filled with love and longing for you. I grasp for a fleeting glimpse of you and if I am lucky I do hear the music. It always comes with violins and cellos. Sweet and clear, with all the longing of a heart so young and strong. The beauty and strength of you will never leave me. I look forward to the next time I am under your spell.

Friday, June 5, 2009


The berries are ripening at an alarming rate.  I am tending them carefully, for these are the berries Kristy and I planted together.  They were running rampant in the garden so we dug them up and planted them in large planters.  The first year they didn't give much fruit, but now in their 4th year - they are giants.

Kristy was so protective of these berries.  She loved their sweet, tart flavor. I think of this each time I put one in my mouth.  Each time I pass by I pick one.  I don't bother to wash it or even inspect it. We use no pesticides. If I eat a spider, I guess I'll......  How does that little ditty go? 

I think of you and let the sweet-sour taste sting my tongue. We are in the garden together now. You are telling me something funny. I love to hear you laugh. You are happy and confident. You show me something. Now you are going. But I wait, for you will surely return. I see you everywhere.  


Clas and Kristy celebrate

Time is no longer succession
and becomes what it originally was and is:
the present, 
in which past and future are reconciled.
-Octavio Paz

The one consolation to grief is it's tie to the future and the present. Facing current and future loss helps me to view them as the same. They are but one part of the same face. If I can get through today then I can get through tomorrow. If I can at some point accept today then I can at some point accept tomorrow. If I see my heart as a series of beats and not as a lifeless organ I drag around with me - I can project the possibility of change. If I think about laying down my pain in the future it gives me hope.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009


grief was cold and terrible
a heavy weight on the head
A lurking beast
ready to claim it's mark

Like a thousand needles
raining down without end
my shoulders too numb
to mount a defense

grief is an old coat
familiar yet unwanted
smelling of hopelessness
and tears yet to come

I still need you - Mom

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Hi Karen,

A few days ago Elliot came in the house with an orchid for me; it is unique and different from other orchids I have seen. Elliot said he had been talking to you earlier in the day and somehow, I was brought up in the conversation. But I must backtrack.

Elliot loves Kristy and misses her deeply. A couple of months ago, he showed me a portrait that you had recently painted of Kristy; she is wearing a cape with a collar that stands up and frames her face. It is a beautiful portrait of her. Elliot told me that Kristy didn't like receiving flowers, but once he had found this beautiful purple orchid and had to get it for her.

Anyway, the day he spoke to you he stopped by Trader Joe's for a few things and there, in the store, was the exact same purple orchid he had bought for was a sign, so he bought it for me. It's an unusual orchid, one that I have not seen at the florist. It is such a deep color purple, that at first, it almost looks black.

I've put the orchid in the east window of my bathroom and have thought about Elliot, Kristy and you every day since. As this orchid has blossomed and opened its wings to the sun I suddenly realized that its outstretched collar looks just like the collar you painted on Kristy's portrait! It's amazing, the same feeling I had when I saw the collar you painted on Kristy is the same feeling I have had watching this orchid open up to frame the body of this precious, unique flower. You painted Kristy as the beautiful orchid that she is!

I continue to keep you in prayer....

Elliot's Mom

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Yet my slings are whirling.
I am here,
I scream,
My strength and my pain,
in the night.
I want it.
My strength is my pain,
in the night.
I want it.
I must open this door.
And go through it.
I must defeat it.
My stones must reach their target.
I scream.

--Pablo Neruda

Was he speaking about grief and sorrow?  The sorrow that feeds upon itself and rewards the weary heart with renewed determination, like a sadistic cannibal licking it's lips.  A sorrow oozing desperate desire.  The scar that never heals as it is tended and cared for only to break open each night. Each new stone seeks its mark.  

Like a raging river, 
like an endless fountain, 
like an echo singing it's loss 
over and over.  

What is on the other side?  
I dream the journey each night
but my desire shows no pity.

Monday, June 1, 2009


We return through the body to the beginning,
spiral off stillness and motion.
Taste, moral knowledge, finite pause,
has beginning and end -- and is measureless.

-Octavio Paz

Why does this make me cry?


This memory came to me last night before I finally fell asleep.  It was a discussion I had with Kristy about the beauty and shortness of life.  

We both loved to watch the program "Six Feet Under".  It was about a very unconventional family and their struggles individually and with each other.  I remember telling Kristy she needed to watch the last episode with me.  I had already seen it but it had been for me an epiphany.  I remember I actually used these words.

The scene was of the youngest daughter lying in bed. Only she was now an old woman and she was dying.  At the same time she was looking at all the beautiful photos of her family surrounding her on the walls.  Each one held a separate memory.  She was old and frail but we could still see it was her.  The light shinning in her eyes was the same light as when she was younger.

The scene suddenly changed to her as a young woman. She had approached a pivotal point in her life. She had made her decision and she was in her car speeding away... She had decided to leave home, launch herself into the unknown, and become what she knew she had to be. It was a great sacrifice to leave those she loved behind. It was a decision that changed the whole scope of her life. She was crying and smiling at the same time. The music was haunting and beautiful.

As she sped away, you could see her again as the old woman lying in bed. Her life had passed by just as quickly as that speeding car. It was here and gone in the blink of an eye.  This was my epiphany. It had never hit me so hard, how truly short life is. My body felt tingly all over and I knew I had caught a glimpse of something so large that it made me feel a part of everything. As if I wasn't here or there but everywhere.

Time is so very short.  I don't know what lies ahead.  But I know I am speeding towards it so very, very fast. I hope I have time to review all my precious memories before departing, just like this woman did. But if not I know I am the sum of them all. "Because I bear in me not my little life, but all the lives, and I walk steadily forward because I have a thousand eyes." (Pablo Neruda)