Sunday, October 12, 2008

We Love You Sara

[Sara is third from the left]
Oh, where to begin. At the end, I guess. As I sit here, it's kind of hard to piece together what I want to say, except to make a tribute to the most gifted runner I have ever, and probably will ever, know; Sara Shields.
Last Sunday I woke up to one of my friends calling me, letting me know that Sara was missing. We had just returned from Bend, Oregon the previous night, and she had gone home, told her parents she was going to Fred Meyer to run an errand, and didn't return. I was so confused. Sara? Diana told me that some of our teammates on XC were going looking for her, asked if I wanted to go, but I said no- I figured we would just be more people in a car that had no idea where to look. A few minutes later, Diana called me again, and told me our friends had found Sara's car up near Lucky Peak. Without hesitation we decided to help them go look for her.
As we were driving up there, our minds were pretty much racing. I couldn't imagine Sara doing anything rash, so this was just all so surreal. Diana called Kaitlyn, one of the girls who was up looking for her, and she told us that they had found Sara... but was hesitant to tell us that she wasn't breathing. We hurried to drive up, and followed an ambulance and cop to the scene, a place I won't soon forget. Sara's car was parked at the turn out near a bridge over Lucky Peak. When we got there we waited for news, confused, anxious, and scared. Sara's dad came over, and gathered us together. I thought he'd just tell us that they were bringing her up, or thank us for coming, but instead, he just said, "she's gone." Isn't it funny, how words and emotion can be so intertwined, how two simple words can change the course of the day, the week, life in general. There were so many questions, so many tears. Time froze as the six of us wept for the loss none of us understood, and today continue to question. Our coaches came, we tried to comprehend what was going on, and I just prayed and prayed that we could feel the comfort of the Lord, that Sara would be safe, that her spirit would live with us.
The rest of the day and week was just like driving up a windy road up in the mountains. Sometimes I would stare blankly out the window, sometimes I tried to sleep, thinking it would make the trip pass faster & drown out everything, and then other times I just wanted to throw up. My parents came to the scene, and after talking to a social worker, we were told to a place where we would all talk to an investigator who would try to piece everything together. I didn't have much to offer there; she'd seemed fine at Bend, we'd played games, had a dance party after our run, and I had seen her reading her Bible the night before. The only thing I had really realized was that she had slept quite a bit on the way home, but then again, we had all done that.
The rest of the day was spent with my XC team. Strength in numbers has really taken on a new meaning during this week, and I guess one good thing that has come out of this tragedy is the uniformity, the cohesion, and the family that our scrappy team has become. The kids have become my heroes.
So, I know you may be wondering exactly what may have happened to Sara. I guess we'll never really know, however they suspect suicide. I can't imagine Sara ever taking her life- I mean she was so passionate about everything. 5 time State Track and Field Champion, artist, extreme sports god, the list goes on and on. We have so many question, so much we want to know, so many things I will never understand.

However, amid all the haze I do know one thing, and that is that Sara did not live in vain. She touched as many lives in her life as the number of girls she passed in races, she led by example, and humility was the queen of her character. She has taught me lessons I will not soon forget, and I will live my life parallel to how she ran- having no concept of giving less than 100%, lengthening my stride throughout the race, competing amid aches and pains, and, most importantly, always being up for a dance party at the end of the race. :)
It's times like these you learn to live again,
It's times like these you give and give again,
It's times like these you learn to love again,
It's time like these, time and time again.
-Foo Fighters

1 comment:

The Ball Babies said...

Oh, daughter, how you have a special gift for the written word. This is such a special, touching, tender, respectful tribute to a wonderful teammate, friend, runner, and person. I think the Shields family would be honored to have a copy of this post. I'm honored that you are the one that wrote it!