I Miss You

It’s April and that means I’m missing my father. Fourteen years ago almost to the day, he died unexpectedly. I can remember it like it’s happening now. It was a fresh Saturday morning and I was about to pin on a bib for a road race when my mom called with the terrible news.

My dad was a couple days away from turning 61, my folks finally retired and enjoying the freedom for which they’d worked their asses off. I was typically 27, puzzle-piecing together some stretches of good decision-making punctuated by judgement disasters. My parents deserved to finally experience the world and each other in a lighthearted way, and I still needed someone to occasionally steady the wheel when I swerved too hard. None of us got what we wanted.

It’s April and I also miss all of you. We’re in a global pandemic, making us all effective shut-ins. Most of us haven’t spent time with people beyond the walls of our homes in any real way for well north of a month now. When we venture out for business deemed by our governments as essential, we move awkwardly among and detached from the humans around us. In a situation without precedent, it’s hard to know how to act and be.

Here at home, I have my husband. Of course, he’s great. But we humans are social creatures–even the introverts among us, me included–and I don’t think any of us are meant to be around the same one or two or three people only. We also have our family and friends electronically around, their voices and stories transmitted digitally across the boundaries of the crisis. We have our twice-weekly text check-ins, our exchanges of hilarious videos and photos, and our FaceTime happy hours. Though they are spirited and joyful, they still carry an air of emptiness. The essence of a person, I now understand, can’t always be conveyed in their electronic representation.

And so, it’s April and I miss a lot of things. However natural it may be to miss someone, it sometimes seems like a useless sentiment. What’s the point of mourning the absence of something you can’t have or that which is a long-time gone? There are far more useful emotions to carry around. We have remembering, or taking the time to conjure up the memory of a specific moment and reliving it again. And perhaps most productively, we have honoring, or incorporating a value or character trait of a person you don’t have into the world that you do.

We’re all made up of the people who surround us. While one of my eyes certainly crinkles almost shut when I smile big just like my dad’s did, I’m talking about more than genetics. In ourselves, we might carry a bit of another’s impatience, sense of humor, artistic bent, or cooking interest. If we acknowledge it, our very existence can be a way of honoring those who have and do compose our lives. Despite feeling lonely in this unusual time, I feel comfort in knowing that I can be a little bit of everyone I love, including those I’ve lost.

This idea is not a replacement of human interaction and isn’t meant to be. It’s okay to acknowledge the difficulty of social distancing from those we love. And it’s okay that no matter how hard I counsel, rationalize, or beg it away, the feeling of missing my dad still regularly stirs in me.

It’s April, family and friends, and I miss and honor you. I miss running with others, and the connection derived through moving in sync with another being. I miss watching loved ones laugh, like really laugh, all the way to their belly. I miss yoga class, and conversations over morning coffee and the sunset. I also honor those I care about by calling up my mother’s adaptability, my friend’s persistent optimism, and the ingenuity of an acquaintance as tools to navigate this time.

It’s April, Dad, and I miss and honor you, too. I miss waiting for the clever punchlines of your drawn-out stories. I miss your barbeque chicken in the summer. I miss waking up to go fishing with you before dawn. I’m honoring you by using some of your stubbornness to help get our small business through this economic crisis. Your curiosity about everything keeps me a perpetual learner. And your eagerness to explore the natural world is part of the reason why I will take to the trails today–and every day.

Call for Comments

  • Who and what are you missing most right now?
  • During this time, what social interactions have you sufficiently replaced in a digital way?

My dad, Ronald Hicks. All photos courtesy of Meghan Hicks.

My dad and mom, Sharon Hicks.

My dad (right) and uncle, Raymond Hicks.

Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com's Managing Editor and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.

There are 10 comments

  1. Sabine

    Thank you for writing about your thoughts!
    I am missing my grandma. Nowadays, I refer to her as “ultrarunning granny” – although she never ran a single race in her life. When she suffered from a heart attack, she didn’t give up. She walked in the backyard – one loop. Then two. Then three. She eventually got better. Then another heart attack. There was no way for her to resume her walks in the backyard, so she started to walk around the table in the living room. Five times. Then ten times. Then twenty times.
    She never complained about her situation, she was just simply happy about the fact that she still was alive.
    She passed away in September 2004.
    In these days of COVID-19, where we have limitations in one way or another, I think of her very often …

  2. Anne

    Thank you for your well written article! You hit the nail right on the head on so many points!!

    This was quite timely for me since the first anniversary of my husband’s death, Matt Watts, is coming up this Sunday. I have learned a lot over this past year. Most importantly is that in my humble opinion, attitude is everything. You can either roll into a ball and be consumed by your grief or you can face it head on, move forward and embrace the, although sometimes painful, unbelievable memories that were created by your bond. Life is too damn short!!!

    1. Meghan Hicks

      Anne, I’m sorry you lost your husband and are moving through the first anniversary of his death this weekend. Your attitude is incredible and I wish you continued strength and optimism as you make this journey.

  3. Cameron

    Thank you so much for this Meghan! I lost my dad in the first week of April this year amid COVID-19. And because of the virus I was not allowed to see him, which makes closure even more elusive. He inspired me to get into running when I was just seven years old. He was part of the running boom and I was tagging along. He was 83 and didn’t spend as many hours running in life as I did, but ultimately, he still got on the treadmill even a couple years ago “at something more than a walk” I heard him say.
    There are many solid truths in your article, but my favorite is this: “We have remembering, or taking the time to conjure up the memory of a specific moment and reliving it again. And perhaps most productively, we have honoring, or incorporating a value or character trait of a person you don’t have into the world that you do.”
    I miss my dad and I miss my trail running community. But I will honor both when I get the proper chance to do so. Cheers!

    1. Meghan Hicks

      Cameron, my sympathies for the recent loss of your father. I can’t imagine the new layer of feelings that the COVID-19 crisis and the way it limits our participation in our loved ones’ death adds to the grieving process. I love reading that you have running as your shared bond, and I am certain that will become one of the strongest ways you remember and honor your father in the future. My sincere condolences.

  4. Sandy Stott

    Thanks for these thoughts, Meghan. We do carry those we love within us; they arrive in mind, both when summoned, and sometimes on their own. And, at times, we speak, and it’s his or her voice. For me, with my dad, it happens on trails. Even as we had completely different trail-personalities, he’s often wherever I am. Somehow, he’s still out there.

  5. Eric Haye

    Hi Meghan –

    1) I miss my best friend Brice. He was as incredible spirit. I knew him for 20 years and he was my primary climbing partner for the last decade. We we’re brothers in arms who shared a love of waterfall ice. We lost him in March.
    2) I miss Bill Dooper – never met or knew Bill but I feel like I do. Love and have sat on the commemorative bench in Leadville.

    Peace and light ,

    E

    1. Meghan Hicks

      Hi Eric,

      I’m sorry to read that you recently lost your friend Brice. Though death is inherent to living, it’s still simply one of the hardest things we experience. I wish you smooth passage through the grieving process.

      Thank you also for mentioning Bill Dooper. I miss him, too. The degree to which he loved and supported all of us and the way he carried the spirit of the trail-ultra community as part of his being makes his absence felt by us all. I’m so glad you’ve been able to sit on his bench!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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