To Dom ….

Posted: August 17, 2010 in Motivation
Tags: , ,

Dear Dom –

I haven’t written a letter in a very long time.  The last one was probably a letter to Dawn when we were dating, long before e-mail, text messaging, twitter and blogging.  Those were the days when you really had to want to write to someone.  Paper, pen, envelopes, stamps, the whole nine yards.  She was living in Pittsburgh at the time.  I was still living in Charleston, SC. 

We were trying to figure out where this whole thing was headed back then.  Would we end up together?  Would someone move?  Who and where?  Now we’re 10 years married and expecting a child in just two weeks.  Where has the time gone?

Back then every Sunday during football season you, Dawn, Jason and the gang would head down to the Steeler game for tailgating – and I would wish that I could be there with you guys.  Afterwards, I would hear stories about how you guys were always running late – who forgot to bring what – and of course how the mighty Steelers crushed whoever was foolish enough to think they could come into Three Rivers and win a football game.

I witnessed that asylum in person only one time, the day you and I met, Colts vs. Steelers – January 14, 1996.  AFC Championship Game – Jim Harbaugh’s hail mary pass on the final play of the game, and after a tense moment when nobody in the stadium knew if Aaron Bailey caught the ball or not, the pass was ruled incomplete and the Steelers – your Steelers – were going to the Superbowl for the first time in 16 years.

I traveled to Pittsburgh many times since that game.  Birthdays, Christmas’, Thanksgivings’, just regular visits and of course Marathons.

Wednesday morning I will be on a flight to Pittsburgh for your memorial service.  I feel like I don’t know a whole lot about life right now.  A lot of things have happened over the last year, and especially these last few weeks that don’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  I do know one thing however and that is the fact that I need to be there for you and your family this week. 

Looking back to the day we met, In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined how our lives would have turned out 14 ½ years later.

I will never forget how you opened up your heart, your life and your family to me.  How you took time out to tell me stories about Dawn as a young girl.  What a tremendous person she is – and how much you valued your friendship with her.  Of course I already knew how amazing she was, but hearing it from you made it all the more special.

There are so many things that I will remember about you, but the one thing that will always stand out is how much you were willing to do for your friends and your family.  You were the most loyal and genuine person I have ever known – and the thought of you telling someone that I was a close friend of yours meant the world to me.

I wanted to let you know that Dawn not being able to make the trip with me today is really difficult for her.  With the baby now only 2 weeks away, she just couldn’t risk the travel.  She will be thinking about you and your family a lot this week Dom.  I’ve come to realize that physical proximity is wonderful – but it is how close you carry someone in your heart that matters the most.

The last 12 months has been incredibly tough for you Dom.  I know that in addition to the physical pain you have endured, the emotional side of your battle with cancer has been even harder.  For someone so invested in those around them.  Your family, friends, Val, Sierra and Nico – I know that you gave everything you had to be there for them as long as possible.

I have never known anyone as selfless and brave as you Dom.  You spent your 39 years on this earth the way that all of us should.  I feel  so blessed to have gotten to know you as I have and will do my part in making sure that the D’Eramo family remains a part of our family for all-time.

I am going to miss you Dom – of that there is no doubt.

Thank you for the gift of your friendship and for all of the life lessons you taught me.

I made a promise to you when we were alone after the race in Pittsburgh and I will absolutely hold up my end of that pact. 

Before I packed for this trip I sent in my registration for that next marathon, February 20th here in Austin.  I will be back out there that morning running in your name, kicking cancer’s ass 26.2 miles at a time. 

If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I would appreciate it if you could look in on me that morning.  I’ll have my baby daughter there rooting for me and I’d like to make her proud of her Daddy.

Take care my brother.


  1. onelittlejill says:

    There is no possible way, that Landry will be anything but amazingly proud of her Daddy. What a lucky baby girl she is to have you!

    “I feel like I don’t know a whole lot about life right now.” <– All I can say, is that after 10 years, that statement resonates with me more than you could ever imagine. I felt that way the day my best friend died and I still feel that way. I think a piece of me always will. Maybe that is the point though- maybe we aren't supposed to know. Of course, that doesn't make it any easier either. Life…what a tricky four letter word.

    In thought and prayer Joe! And tell Dawn to keep Landry cooking until her Daddy gets home 🙂

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jill – thank you so much for the visit and the message. Your perspective on things really rings true today. I’ve never thought of life as a four-letter word before – so appropriate sometimes. Best to you and thank you again for all your support this week. You are the best, J

  2. Jodi Higgins says:

    I am typing this through streams of tears. Your way with words is so eloquent (and I realize I have told you this many times before but I just wanted to remind you). What an amazing gift you were given to have the friendship of Dom and his entire family. I know Dom is smiling down on you right now after knowing that you have signed up for another marathon in his honor. He will be there at that finish line in one form or another and baby Landry will be there all smiles very proud of her daddy and her Uncle Dom..her guardian angel. Many thoughts and prayers are with you this week as you travel to Pittsburgh. Those same thoughts and prayers are being sent to Dawn as well while she rests up and waits for your return for the arrival of baby Landry.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jodi! Thank you so much for the message – Your support means a great deal to me, I really can’t thank you enough. I think we are going to have quite the crowd here in Austin running for Dom in February – I know he will be smiling down on all of us. Take good care, J

  3. Alett says:

    Beautiful letter; a true testament to a beautiful friendship.

    When you said: “I feel like I don’t know a whole lot about life right now,” the song sung by Judy Collins “Both Sides Now” popped in my head.

    She sings: I’ve looked at life from both sides now,
    From win & lose and still somehow,
    It’s life’s illusions I recall,
    I really don’t know life at all.

    Life really does not make sense a lot of the time. But there was a reason that you met and married Dawn; and there is a reason that you met Dom. You may feel like you don’t know a lot about life right now but it is safe to say that Dom and many of the people who love you have taught you much about life. I have no doubt that you will pass these life lessons on with love as you and Dawn raise your daughter.

    Warm regards,

  4. Joe, as always your words and sentiments are moving. Thank you for sharing Dom with us over the past year. The loss of someone still in the prime of their life with so much left to give always leaves us asking why. I don’t believe there is sense that can be made from such a loss. At the same time, Dom’s life has touched so many, especially through your efforts. He, and you, will continue to inspire both those who knew him, those who didn’t, and those still to come, such as Landry. I know you’re in Pittsburgh now, my thoughts are with you, Val, Sierra and Nico, and Dawn in Austin.

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