second time in arkansas

sararunFriday morning Beeth and Crust (ND roommates) and I flew out to Arkansas for the John Patrick Bishop Memorial Scholarship Kickoff Weekend. “What was that?” you ask. To honor our late friend John, his wife Sara set up a scholarship to give selected exceptional students from his hometown of Berryville, Arkansas the financial means to attend a four-year college.

To establish the scholarship into perpetuity they needed to raise $400,000. John’s buddy decided to run 50 miles and raise the dough (as pledges/donations) from his Wall Street colleagues. Sara joined him in running the last 26 miles (her own personal marathon). Running 26 miles is an accomplishment in itself — especially when you are a single mother of four! And 50 miles? I can’t even get my head around it. The dude ran from 2 a.m. until 2 p.m. covering one of the hilliest terrains one could imagine. The whole thing was nuts. And it worked — as of Saturday night they were only $20 or $30K short of the endowment goal (that was before opening up all the checks from that night). BTW, you can still contribute!

The weekend was fun, lovely, peaceful. Heartbreaking once in a while, but mostly heart-filling. The living example of life and living and thriving and forging ahead when Plan A goes tragically wrong. The life John’s wife has created for their children in his absence is joyful, full of fun and love and the constant presence of strong role models. The grace, fierce intelligence and strength that were part of what John so adored  about Sara are what enables her to move forward in spite of everything that has happened. He is surely very very proud of her and how she’s caring for their family without him.

I feel John’s presence so strongly, not just when I am around his wife and children, but when I am making choices and living day to day. Especially here in New York, where we had many a fun time together. John was a big promoter of extraordinary living, and in being whomever your heart called you to be – not just following the crowd. Think that was part of why he came to New York, a city where people are too busy doing their own thing to take notice of and judge others.

His intellect was razor sharp, and his heart was kind. We could as easily talk about philosophy and religion as we could drink beers and enjoy barstool shenanigans. The fact that I was an ambitious, independent woman who was not yet coupled up or married off never struck him as unusual or anything to pass judgment on or be wary of. He didn’t care. He just saw me as Col, his pal. Fellow tormenter of Steve Deane. Kindred spirit in all things wig and prank-related. He was happy in his life and wanted the same for me (and everyone else).

It was wonderful catching up with my buds and spending quality time laughing and talking and lounging around. Times like those make a girl reflective. I for one am so grateful to have my friends, my family and my life.

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