Saturday, February 9, 2013

running with ghosts

The forest is silent.  There is one car at the trailhead, but I don't see anyone; a person could be anywhere in this maze of snowy paths.  Even the sun seems reluctant to rise, hugging the horizon low and surly.  My spikes bite into the ice.  I run slowly, alone but not alone.

Today I run with ghosts. They keep pace beside me, these lost women, the ones who were taken and murdered while running.  Have you heard of them?  Let me say their names:  Amy Bechtel. Sara Kuszak.  Sarah Hart.  Laura Smither.  Chandra Levy.  Wendy Ladner-Beaudry.  Chelsea King.  Sherry Arnold.  And there are more of them, women who tied their shoes, put their hair back in a ponytail, and started out in the sunshine and the rain and the snow, maybe happy, maybe tired, all now no longer here.

I am running in memory of Sherry, who was senselessly murdered by two men last year in eastern Montana.  She was a beloved teacher in a small town who ran by the killers' car and said "Hi."  That was enough for them.  Doing drugs as they drove to Montana, they talked about finding a woman to kill, to see what it would be like.  It didn't matter to them who she was.  It could have been any of us, less than a mile from home, the road so familiar with our footprints all over it, no evil could ever overtake us there.

As I run I am angry, I can't help it.  When something like this happens, we, the women, are supposed to change our behavior.  We are supposed to run with a dog or with pepper spray.  We are supposed to give up running alone even though we love it.  We are supposed to stick to the roads, in the middle of the day.  We are supposed to be afraid.  A man would never think of these things, if he found himself without a running partner and found an inviting trail at dusk. We, the potential victims, are told to stop doing what we love, instead of it being this simple: men need to stop preying on women.

I come to the place where the path crosses the creek. The sun has decided to come up after all, but there isn't much warmth in it.  "Hey, Sherry, " I say out loud, as if she was right beside me, her steps loud as mine on the frozen trail.  And maybe she is, along with Sara and Sarah and the rest.  Maybe they are all out running somewhere on a road that is wide open, in a world that holds them in its arms like a haven, and they are not afraid.

Running for Sherry


7 comments:

  1. Very nicely done Lynn! Sherry would be proud.

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  2. I can't believe that as a society, we can't do a better job of taking care of women. It is barbaric that women get raped, robbed or even killed, because they are typically physically smaller. Jeff H.

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  3. I agree, Jeff, and in many countries these attacks are seen as the woman's fault.

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  4. Thank you for writing this....it helps with the despair and the anger and the fear...for our friends, our daughters and all the Sherries who should be able to run free.

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  5. Such powerful, and yet poignant, writing, Lynn; it brought tears to my eyes, and anger to my heart for all the women in the U.S., in India, in Afghanistan and everywhere who are abused, even killed, by their fellow countrymen.

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