The last 36 Hours for Dom

Posted: August 19, 2010 in Motivation
Tags: , ,

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.

  1. Linda says:

    Joe, I am completely touched by Dom’s and your story. I will follow your 26.2 miles at a time fight against cancer. I have 2 young cousins who have recently beat it, for now, and know how horrible this disease is. I’d be honored to join your fight, kicking cancer’s ass 26.2 miles at a time…it may take me a little longer than you because you run more than I do right now, but I’d love to join your fight. Go get ’em Joe…for Dom!!!!

    Your friend Linda

    • joerunfordom says:

      Linda – thank you so much for the visit and the message. My best to your cousins and their continued success in fighting this disease – so happy for them and so proud of them as I know this battle is such a tough one.

      The more warriors we have out thee raising awareness and battling this disease the better – truly honored to have you along for the ride. Best to you from back in Austin, TX – Joe

  2. Jim in Maine says:

    Joe –

    Grant you the opportunity to continue to run in honor of Dom’s memory and keep kicking cancer’s ass 26.2 miles at a time? I would expect nothing less.

    Have a good weekend with Dawn … one of your very last before your life will change yet again. This time it will be through addition instead of subtraction.

    Stay strong –

    Jim & Patti

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jim and Patti – thanks so much for all the support and love this week – you guys are absolutely the greatest. You are very right in that we have a new “arrival” on the horizon that will I think truly put the passing of Dom and the birth of our daughter in the proper perspective.

      I wish those two would have had the opportunity to know each other, but I feel like they will be connected in a special way as it is. It won’t be long before Landry is on her feet, doing laps and as children we all had a love to run.

      Somehow that changes over time and many view it as “work” – but I know through Dom and the plans that are forming to keep his memory alive, she will have a lot of opportunities to Run for Dom as well.

      Best to you both from Austin, J

  3. Stu Altenhaus says:


    Cancer has touched my Family’s lives too. I would be honored if we joined forces, running together to fight the good fight while honoring those of us who continue to struggle against a horrific disease.

    Peace Joe!


    • joerunfordom says:

      Stu – you are a true warrior and great friend. I would be absolutely honored and excited by the prospect of us looking for ways to fight this battle together.

      I have a few irons in the fire right now about a memorial race next year in Pittsburgh (and every year thereafter) – as plans start to come together I will absolutely share the details.

      I can think of no better way to celebrate Dom’s life and his effect on everyone around him.

      Best to you Stu – take good care, J

  4. Connie says:

    Joe For the second time I missed meeting you. I just could not go to the funeral home. I explained it to Val in a card I sent her. I know she will understand. If she don’t now she will down the road.
    I’ll be watching out for the day you post about Landry.
    Wishing you and Dawn the best.
    To me your a different kind of WINNER today. Not one who runs but one who is a friend.
    My heart is broken

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Connie – we will absolutely have more opportunities to meet, no question about that. It was a difficult day, but as the sun rose in Austin this morning perspective is starting to come a bit clearer to me.

      Dom fought valliantly for a long time and in the end was suffering a great deal. We will all love and miss him terribly – but I do know for sure he is now in a better place.

      Thanks so much for all of your support through all the training, races and now with the loss of our good friend. He truly was the greatest. Best from Austin, Joe

  5. Ariana says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Prayers to you, and all of Dom’s friends and family. The world has lost an amazing man and I love how you are keeping his memory alive. He is definitely smiling down on you my friend.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Ariana – Thank you so much for the visit and all of the kind words and support. The truly amazing thing about Dom is that he packed so much “life” into his 39 years, I feel like I will never run out of stories about him and how much impact on those who knew and loved him.

      He really was one of a kind. Best to you Ariana – your training has been phenomenal of late – If things go as planned and I get a race in Dom’s memory put together, I might need to try to talk you into coming to race …. you’ll have to let me win at least the first year though!

      Best to you, Joe

  6. Welcome home Joe! Grant you the opportunity to continue to run in honor of Dom’s memory and keep kicking cancer’s ass 26.2 miles at a time? No, it is you granting us the opportunity to follow along in your incredible journey and inspiring thousands along the way. On my “no goals” runs this week I have thought a lot about you, Dom, and the gift we all have while we’re alive to do the most we possibly can with the time we’re granted. Thank you for granting us the opportunity to remember that and treasure it. Thank you for giving me a reason to push through at that faster pace or go that extra mile.

    • joerunfordom says:

      AJ – thanks so much you really are the greatest. I’m so glad to hear just how much we have been able to connect over this battle – I think what you are fighting for out there in Calif. w/ R is truly amazing as well.

      Best to you both and best to you “finding it” over the next few weeks as the RnR draws closer. I have no doubt you will be ready for that race and certain of why you are there that morning when you pin on that number.

      Best to you, Joe

  7. Jodi Higgins says:

    I feel like I a broken record when I say this but again, amazing, amazing post. Your words are always so eloquent. I thought of you yesterday as I too was saying goodbye to a friend who died much too young in an accident on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what you were going through yesterday. Those little ones are just that….little, how horribly sad that they had to say goodbye to there “dada” so soon. The children of my friend are all adults now but it didn’t make it any easier, the tears in their eyes were evidence of that. And I agree with everyone else about you granting us the opportunity to be a part of this amazing thing you are doing. I am running a 5K with my brother tomorrow and it is my full intent to dedicate it to Dom. I will be out there competing with my brother for the “family champion” title but as I see it…DOM IS THE CHAMPION. Hang in there. Looking forward to hearing of Landry’s arrival. Many thoughts and prayers coming your way from Ohio (don’t worry though…Dom can rest easy..I’m a Steelers fan!!!)

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jodi – so sorry to hear about your friend – that is so very tragic. It is so unfortunate that it is these losses that add such great perspective on what we should be focusing on as our days tick by.

      So great that you are getting a chance to race with your brother tomorrow – I’m putting my money firmly on you to come home with the family title. You are both winners for being out there doing what you love to do. I know Dom will be smiling down at you guys tomorrow.

      Best to you and have a great race in the morning – can’t wait to read all about it. Take care, Joe

  8. onelittlejill says:

    I am sorry, but I cannot accept that you want to just kick cancers ass. I would prefer you smash cancer into 328972 little pieces!!!!!

    As always, much love Joe. Love from where the sun rises in the East ❤

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jill – thanks so much for the message and the firm kick in the pants – you are exactly right. Time to take this up a notch! We have some big plans on the horizon actually – stay tuned as we’re just getting started. Best to you from deep in the heart of Texas. Joe

  9. Joe – I’m so, so very sorry for your loss. Your journey has been–and will continue to be–inspirational. No doubt your strength AND vulnerability brings great comfort to Dom’s family – and I hope to you as well.

    My sister is battling breast cancer right now, a particularly nasty invasive kind. And, I can only hope that I can offer the strength and support to her that you have done for Dom and those who love him.

    Much peace, light & happiness to you.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Maria – thank you so much for the message and kind words. I am so sorry to hear about your sister and her fight with breast cancer. It seems like this disease is begging for us to stomp it down once and for all. My heart goes out to you, your sister and your family – please keep faith and cherish everyday. Ever loved one who fights this disease the way Dom and your sister have are getting us closer and closer to a cure – I truly believe that. Best from Austin, TX – Joe

  10. Sarah G says:

    Joe — there’s nothing left to say other than “ditto” to the above comments. You are going to be an amazing dad. Keep on keepin on.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Sarah – thanks so much for the visit and the message! We’re going to be finding out soon here just how much I still need to learn about being a Dad. Let alone an “amazing one”! 8 days or so +/- depending on Landry’s mood and when she feels like showing up. We’re pretty excited down here in Austin! Take good care and thanks again for the vote of confidence!

  11. RNnnnrGrl says:

    I will cry myself to sleep tonight over this post. For those small children, for his wife, for his friends. And to cry and not have ever met this man says a lot for this post.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks so much for the visit and the kind words – such a sad time last year for all of us who loved Dom so very much. Not a day goes by playing with my daugther that at some point I don’t think about how much Sierra, Nico and Val miss their Dom. He truly was an amazing man.

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