Monday, May 03, 2010

Water Stop Family

Written By
Beth McHoul

I have two main running routes in Haiti. They both involve a lot of dodging vehicles, people, animals and rocks. Add cement to that list since the earthquake. I've not run much since the earthquake but have tried to make time a few mornings a week. While marathon training we include a 6 mile route that has three big hills each way. If we do this route enough it makes us Boston ready and very strong. The last time I ran this route was with Tara shortly before we left for the Disney Marathon in January. This morning I was feeling nostalgic and thought I'd give our old hill route a try.

As I was going out the door I hit John up for money to pay for water half way through the run. There is a boutique along the route that I would stop at and buy a bottle of water to carry me the rest of the way. I would always stop at this one little shop run by a very cute family. An obese mom who sits on a chair in a house-dress and orders the others around. The son and the dad work in the boutique as well and do her bidding. Cold water sits in an ancient cooler and ketchup, tomato paste and cornflakes line the shelves. I often chatted with the family making small talk while I waited for change. I would answer mom's questions and she would repeat my answers to the dad as if he couldn't hear me. "She runs every day" or "her children live in the States" or "she is training for a marathon" and he would nod. They were cute. They were part of our routine. Tara was often with me and she added in the small talk as well. We liked them and I being the hydration police would insist we stop and buy our water. On that final run in January I didn't have the right change and they told me to pay next time. As the earthquake would have it, the next time was today, nearly four months later.

As I came up on the boutique this morning it wasn't there. Gone. Cement. I looked for the slippery slope entrance where Tara once fell. Memories. I looked for the cute family. Not there. Tears immediately filled my eyes and I stared through them looking for the boutique and the chatty family. My water money sat in my pouch. My debt for water consumed last January would not be paid. I felt so very sad. I moved on to the turnaround point sad that the earthquake yet again claimed another part of my normal life. When would we stop being surprised at the cost of those 35 seconds on January 12.

I moved on to the turn around point, stretched and headed back home. I stopped again at where the boutique stood gathering my courage to face the next hill when I heard the yelling. I turned and looked across the street and there was the cute mom, in the same housedress waving her arms at me, beckoning me to come. The son was there too! I ran across the street, heard their news and paid my water debt. They were rebuilding! No lives had been lost. Good news! Mom sobered and asked where my friend was. Was she okay? Was she hurt in the earthquake? I explained that Tara was in the States for a while but would be back running with me as soon as possible. We rejoiced in each others safety, in renewed acquaintance and I admired their resolve to rebuild their lives after losing their store.

I ran the rest of the way a little lighter. Hills make us strong and relationships make us rich - even casual ones.


Running has been a healer in my life. It is not easy, it is not always fun, sometimes it even hurts. God has given it as a gift to help me clear my head, to help me refocus, to help me spend time with Him in conversation. My first running partner was/is my little sister, I miss our runs together. My second running partner was/is Beth McHoul, I miss our runs together.

Even as I miss these two women and we all run by ourselves divided by many miles ... I know we are not alone.

Thank you God for running, for my friends, and for protecting the "Water Stop Family".