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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The question was asked: "what happened to Shawn?"
When my clock radio that barely penetrated sleep at 6:30 Monday said "Shawn Marmion" and "suicide," it rattled me from sleep well before I had to rise. Since I was bustling around by 7:30, I couldn't tell if I missed the repeat or if it had been edited,but I thought "that's not just news for them... they lost a friend."
I met Shawn at the Ride to the Depot , in the dawn's early light of my first century, a solo effort. He was about the first person of many to pass me, and spent a good five miles encouraging me... managing to convey not patronization or confusion, but admiration for "doing 100 miles in sneakers on a hybrid!" and conversing with respect for my dawning strengths, instead of cruising past and waving. I was so impressed with his kindness that I made a point of figuring out who he was from the registration on the ride.
The second time I encountered him was on my first "ride with the fast people," in a memorable paceline where I averaged 21.3 for 30 miles. (I'd never topped 18 before.) It was when the front of that group peeled ahead for a final sprint and he hung back to pull the rest of us in at that ridiculous, euphoric average that I remembered the assorted comments he'd made along the way, some encouraging and some just making sure communication was happening with a new person on board. I thought, "Oh! It's that Shawn guy!"
I only saw him a couple of other times. When his son was killed ... shit. Irreconcilable. And when I heard the news Monday morning, I thought... I *know* he's touched a ton of people... and they're reeling now. Which is why I wanted to be riding with "the contingent..." I like the chaplain's words because they are valid as well as comforting. My friend who was at the service said " he said simply that it wasn't Shawn who took his life. That wasn't Shawn, the man who had lived 47 full and productive years. Something took the Shawn we knew before the moment of his death. Shawn will be missed."

I'll remember Shawn on the dawn of the 30th when once again I'll be tackling a century, at the Ride to the Depot that's happening this year in Fritz Miericke's memory, and if there's somebody plugging along in front of me, I'll pause and go for more than the surface comments. Fritz and Shawn, both, saw more in all kinds of people than most of us ... are able to? bother to? It's those extra kindnesses that live on.

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