The first time I met you was my freshman year of high school. I joined the cross country team, and quickly learned of my love to run. I know you loved it as well. But what made XC so special was the people we were running with—especially you. You referred to me as “Clare’s brother”, because I was a little freshman without much of a name yet. But it was never out of malice, no… I knew right away you were just having fun with me. And that was always who you were: having fun with people. It wasn’t fun to you unless we all were enjoying it. And how could we not? Your jokes were infectious.
You used to tease me about having a “thing” for Laura or Mr. Raymond’s daughter Eryn, even though it wasn’t true. You even texted me one time from a random number pretending to be Mr. Raymond, warning me to stay away from her. I froze for a split second, but I couldn’t help but laugh because I knew it was you. Who else would it be? I think you ended up trying to pass it off as Gurney, but I know it was you. haha.
You were an integral part of “Team India”, the fast force four of Krish, Kushal, Ranvir, and Gurney. I loved watching you run… that elegant gazelle-like stride streaking across the sunburnt rubber. When you turned it on, the earth moved beneath you. It was awe inspiring. My little legs could only dream of striding so far in one step. You beat Pony Boy fair and square in the 4x400 final at Newark, I don’t care what anyone says.
I remember another time doing an eight-mile fartlek workout for XC at the creek. It was windy as all hell that day, so I tucked in behind you and matched your stride nearly step for step the entire time. You let me stay there, and only looked back once and exclaimed “oh snap you’re still there!” I laughed. I would’ve gladly traded spots with you, not that my tiny frame could block much wind.
Spending time with you was always a treat. Your words were always engaging, uplifting, and inspiring. That’s why I would always greet you with a sprint into a hug, because you really were that special. How else do you greet a person like you? If there’s a better way, I’d love to know.
We’re left here with only the fondest memories of you. I wish I could recount more specific ones, but my memory fails me. You were more of an enduring presence than a specific memory though. You lit up the room, you lifted the mood, and you stood tall. Now you’re soaring with angels, watching us all. I guess that brings some sort of reason with it. Only the greatest of men are granted wings.