7 Years Ago My Friend Died

Her name was Meg Menzies.

Meg was a friend of a friend. A Christian, a mother of three, and an avid runner in Richmond. Our daughters were 5 months apart and played together a few times. While I didn't know Meg well, what I remember most about her was her vibrant smile. She could light up a room with her smile. She had kind eyes. The type that drew you in and made you feel instantly comfortable.

She was killed by a drunk driver on January 13, 2014. She had just put her three children on the school bus and set out on a run with her husband. She was an incredible runner, well known in the Richmond area. She had qualified again for Boston and that's what she was training for. News of her death spread among friends quickly, reaching me in Texas through a Facebook post. As I had only recently begun my own journey as a runner, I felt moved to do something in her honor.

That's when #megsmiles was born.

A virtual run was created in her memory that weekend. The event on Facebook captured almost 100,000 people from around the world running or walking miles for Meg. Support for a fellow runner poured in from everywhere. It was a devasting story to read about. It could have been me. It could have been any of us. If you call yourself a runner, it could have been you.

The universal sentiment surrounding her death was that of it being "unfair" and "preventable." It was certainly both of those things and more. Meg did everything right - she was running against the flow of traffic, running in daylight, and running with a partner. Yet God called her home that morning anyway, leaving those who loved her in deep despair.

What has grown from Meg's tragic story is one of hope. Tens of thousands remained long after that virtual run - together in a running group called Meg's Miles Supporters on Facebook. Millions of miles of runs and walks have been shared since. All for Meg. Most of these people were never even blessed with the opportunity to meet Meg. Yet she brought them all together, brought us all together.

More than miles shared among us, though, are the moments. The beginning of lifelong friendships. The resurrection of good in the world. Of kindness. Of putting others ahead of ourselves. Some of my most treasured friendships are within this group. A group that is still, to this day, so unbelievably hard to describe or put into words. Maybe it's because #megsmiles is more than a group, a hashtag, or a movement. It's a feeling. A feeling larger than love.

While I am unable to run any longer, I will be heading out today to walk in honor of my friend, Meg. I'll also be participating in a virtual 5k this Saturday honoring her, too. If you're able, get outside today and run, or walk at least a mile. Notice your surroundings, the fresh air, the cold wind on your face, the pavement beneath your feet. Be grateful. Be in the moment.

Standing where Meg died (in 2019)

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