Only the good….

September 18, 2012

“One way or another Mary, this is going to have to get done this morning.”  I smiled. It’s always amazing to me how people will say the right things and not even know it. He was just an acquaintance and was referring to swimming. I had been sitting there on the pool deck drinking coffee staring at the glass like water, wondering how the hell it is …. that we are here again.

Less than 30 minutes prior I had received word that a friend who had crashed his bike 3 weeks earlier, had succumbed to his injuries and passed away. His accident had nothing to do with a car, or sharing the road….. it was an accident. That almost made it harder. But there is was again. That feeling of my breath being taken away and not in a good way. I sat and stared at the dark pool and all I could do was let the tears come. I wanted to scream you have to be kidding me GOD you have to be kidding me!!!

Who am I going to fight on this one? Gravity? God? Don’t think I haven’t thought about it.

I still remain in the back of the pack when it comes to faith. I am still in line but I am shaken… yet again. We don’t get to know the “why” in all of this. Do we ever? Because if we do I sure have some questions.

Why only the good God? Why only the good? My friend Sr. Rosemary will assure me that this is not God punishing us. And as hard a time as I have believing it….. I will. I will. I know.

A loved husband, son, brother, father. A loved swim coach, triathlete. One of those guys who would do anything for those he cared about. seems we are writing the same story again here. A man who was loved and who loved. Who did the right things. Who treated people like family. Who cared and cared big.

Why him?

What’s the point of taking him?

To say that he’s left behind a community that’s been devastated is an understatement. I can’t tell you how many tears have been shed, how much hope has been held and how many people held his wife in their prayers for the past 3 weeks. She was in the impossible position as she was forced to walk the line between miracles and science. I don’t think I know a stronger woman.

As I sat there on the pool deck I knew my friend was right. Somehow, someway this was going to get done. Not the swim, although that was the metaphor. Somehow … someway…… we will all walk through this and we will do it together.

I am not good with grief. I am not good with loss, and you think at this point in my life I would be. The only way I know to deal with it is to head straight on through it. It gets worse before it gets better. You get burned and it gets painful for a while. At some point ….. and it often takes a long time….. at some point you get to the other side. But there is a hole in your heart that never heals and never gets less painful.

It just feels like it gets further away.

Gary Grant and Dan Szajta. Gary taught me how to say Dan’s last name, every time I announce it I get it wrong. Szajta Oneida he would tell me!

In times of tragedy we have two choices. Allow it to overcome us, or come together and walk through this together. The beauty of social media is that it gives us all somewhere to connect when we are not in the same place. It gives us a place to come together.

And that’s exactly what is happening.

Grant’s Gang has formed on Facebook. Please friend them and stay tuned for some of the things they have coming up to both remember Gary and to fund raise as he has left behind a wife and three sons. You can find that page here. Calling hours and funeral service information are on that page.

You can order a T Shirt. Visit Blue Bison Sports by clicking right here and look for Grants Gang in the left hand column.

Gary loved Swedish Fish. Anyone who knew him knew that he always had a bag with him at swim meets. So this weekend at the Pain in the Alleghenies race…. a race he was supposed to be in…. I will have swedish fish for all. Come over to the announcer tent and grab some.

As my friend said …. one way or another this is going to have to get done. There is no script to follow when it comes to this. We just make it up as we go along. We hold each other’s hands and keep walking and keep the faith even when we have none. We are told that the afterlife is better… I think right here is pretty damn awesome so let’s hope that as Gary made his journey from this life to the next…. it was through a great big finish line with a great big bag of Swedish fish. That he’s resting peacefully now, and that his family will be watched over. His wife guided and his sons given what they need.

And we will start that healing process knowing it never really ends.

Rest in peace Gary. You are missed more than you can possibly imagine.



  1. I am so terribly sorry for the loss of your friend and will certainly pray for his family. Such a tragedy. I just learned of another bike accident ( no cars or anything else involved ) that took a young man’s life too. Life each day…. and count our blessings…. Hugs to you Mary.

  2. Mary, you said it well. Friends stay but a moment but their memory lives forever. One never gets used to this dying thing regardless of age or circumstance. As they say, today is a gift that is why they call it the present.

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