36 hours is not a lot of time.
If you really think about it, 36 hours doesn’t amount to a whole lot.
Not even a full work week.
Only a season and a half of 24.
I can cover about 288 training miles in 36 hours or run about 10 marathons.
But as I sit here on my flight back to Austin coming from Dom’s funeral earlier today, I realized that when the wheels touch-down and I walk off the plane to climb into my wife’s waiting car, it will only be 36 hours since we said goodbye on Wednesday morning.
It feels like a lifetime ago.
As much as I would love to share that making the trip to Pittsburgh for Dom’s memorial service was a celebration of his life. That I was the big strong man that can run far, run fast, climb hills and crush races from 5K to the marathon like many men half my age. I simply cannot.
If I did, I would be lying.
It was a tough last day and a half for yours truly.
Seeing so many of Dom’s family and friends last night and today was truly heartbreaking. Seeing Val, Sierra and Nico, who just recently learned to say “Dada”, and was having a grand time showing off his latest accomplishment, was beyond heartbreaking. It was truly crushing.
But as I left the comfort of family and friends and walked through the airport terminal, still in my suit and tie to make my way through security – there was that feeling again of being alone.
Alone on a morning run with the sun rising in the East – good.
Alone thinking of all of the things you wished had turned out differently for Dom – Definitely not good.
The outpouring of love and support for Dom witnessed by me today truly was remarkable. It was clear to anyone who was there just how wonderful a young man Dom was and how sorely he will be missed.
His funeral procession was 85 cars long.
My wife asked me who has a funeral procession with 85 cars?
The only answer I could offer up was – Elvis?
So in 36 hours I made the trip out to honor and pay my last respects to Dominic Vincent D’Eramo, Jr. and return back to Austin where two weeks from today our first child, baby Landry is due to arrive.
I know that Dom has a lot of things on his plate right now.
Figuring out the lay of the land up in Heaven. Finding out what channel his Steelers will be on this weekend. Entertaining a whole new audience with the stories of his life …. I have no doubt that Dom is holding court as I write this.
I also know that he will be looking in on Dawn and me when Landry arrives and making sure that these last 36 hours taught me the right things.
The one thing I realized with absolute certainty while this plane continues on to Austin is that this is not over.
Dom gave cancer the fight of its life. He had it on the ropes more than once. Each time cancer rallied and knocked Dom down, he dusted himself off, climbed back to his feet to fight again. He did this repeatedly for Val, Sierra, Nico, Dom Sr., Shirley, Matt, Chris, his uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
Each of us, all of us, has that same fight in us. We just have to find the things that are most important, that are worth fighting for and not back down from the challenge. Take the fight to those things, just as Dom took the fight to his cancer.
There are a helluva lot more of us than there are challenges out there. Together we can do just about anything. So as we take some time to regroup. Dust ourselves off and get back on our feet – we can and will come back stronger than ever.
I know that as long as I can run and write and as long as anyone out there is willing to watch or listen – I’m going to keep Running for Dom.
There are races to run, money and awareness to raise to ensure two beautiful little children have all of the opportunities that their “Dada” would have provided for them to come true.
So if you wouldn’t mind playing along – I would love it if you would grant me the opportunity to continue to run in honor of Dom’s memory and keep kicking cancer’s ass 26.2 miles at a time.