Today was the memorial for a friend who had inspired me with her passion and courage. I wrote about Gina in July and her battle with cancer. Although she passed away a few days after my July visit, her memorial was delayed as Gina’s partner dealt privately with her grief.
We are regularly encouraged to ignore the naysayers and follow our dreams … regardless of how big or bold they may be. Gina was one of those people who did just that. She never gave up on the pursuit of her dream …. to be an Ironman. Although pursuing an Ironman finish is not a minor undertaking for anyone, it was particularly challenging for someone like Gina who was terrified of the water.
Gina’s only brother had drowned in an accident many years earlier and as a result, Gina had developed a strong fear of swimming … especially in large open bodies of water. Although she never overcame her fear, she faced it regularly, spending endless hours in the pool trying to improve her swimming skills and meet the challenge of an Ironman swim.
I’ve stood on the beach with 2,000+ other athletes and felt MY fear of the 3.8 km Ironman swim ahead of me. I cannot begin to image how much courage it took for Gina. How could I not be inspired by her? I was just a very slow swimmer … Gina was facing down her demons every time she entered the water.
I never told Gina how I felt.
At her memorial today, there were many kind words said by her family and friends. How many had shared those sentiments with Gina while she was still alive? Isn’t a shame that we often don’t think to share our feelings with those who have inspired, encouraged, or otherwise made a difference in our lives?