I met a new running companion today. His name is Jase.
We went to the early church service (Mo had a hot brunch date) so I didn’t get started on my 7-mile run today until around 11:30. Which in mid-April in Phoenix is always exciting. By exciting, I mean death on a stick.
I run the usual Y Road route, out and back a couple of times. The heat, which reached 89 degrees by quitting time, makes you notice things you otherwise would miss.
For one thing, I realize today that I now have adopted the John Wayne Memorial Route. I am running on a path that parallels the road, and which is on the wrong side of a state “No Trespassing” sign. I feel a real kinship, knowing my Piranhas and his Piranhas have followed the same desperado paths. I smile and look around nervously for flashing lights.
The other thing I notice for the first time is a little shrine on the side of the road. It’s a cultural thing in the Southwest, little memorials set up to mark the spots where loved ones died. It’s always incredibly sad to come across one and know this is the spot where a life ended. This one is old and in a bit of disarray. It just has the name Jase on it. It’s surrounded by BMX trophies (I got a medal!) and a bicycle seat post. I’m guessing the person is youngish but it’s hard to tell.
It’s haunting to think that you’re running past a point where something horrible must have happened, and where a family has come to grieve repeatedly. I hope he’s in a better place and if he’s around, I welcome him to join me. Two loops later he’s probably wishing he hadn’t.
Still, it’s a good, honest run. Too hot for quality, but just right for wanting to throw up for the rest of the afternoon. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Curious, I search after returning home to find out who Jase is. It’s even sadder than I had imagined. He was a 9-year-old kid on spring break crossing the road on his bike without looking. The way 9-year-olds do. The way I do. He was hit by a driver who just didn’t have time to react at this spot on March 13, 2001.
“Everything in this world is on loan from above. I guess it was his time. We are certainly going to miss him,” his dad said at the time. Sad that he couldn’t have been on loan for a lot longer.
Here’s the story if you’re interested: http://tinyurl.com/y6owgvh
A little more than nine years later I am left to mourn Jase. And to celebrate his life.
And to welcome a new running partner on my Y road. You might beat me, Mr. Squirrel, but you’re no match for my buddy Jase.
Wow, that’s sad. I have a nine-year old son myself. Rest in peace, Jase.