When one Sun sets, the other will rise

Earlier this year I had the prophetic experience to be on each Florida coast within a few weeks of each other. While on the gulf side I witnessed an amazing sunset. Then just a few weeks later I was on the east coast witnessing an incredible sunrise. For the sunrise I was walking along a moon lit beach waiting for the sun to start everyone’s day when I came to a simple revelation. These two events, the sun setting and then rising above this beautiful water were so symbolic of my recent life.  I was overcome with emotion as I stood facing the eastern sky, I could not help but think about how my viewing these so close together represented so much. The sunset forever etched in my mind the symbolic end of a beautiful era in my life, my life with Martha. We had an amazing journey, two wonderful children, and a life that will always live in my heart. Seeing the slowly fading colors of that western sky reminded me of how I watched Martha’s life pass before me. I will never be able to watch another sunset without thinking about our life together, and that’s a wonderful thing. Facing the sunrise I saw my new life rising before me, Lisa has brought joy back into my life. I cannot imagine where I would be if I had not had the good fortune to meet her along my Komen journey. I will never be able to watch another sunrise without thinking about the life I have yet to live with Lisa, and that’s a wonderful thing. It’s still amazes me how life can turn, and I am constantly reminded of the pain it can cause while at the same time delivering a message to live. It’s still easy for me to ask why me, but then I know everyone that is stricken with this awful disease asks the same question. That is why I can never give up this fight, I will continue to walk, run, and raise money for a cure. Because every sunset, every sunrise should bring joy and hope, and life without fear.

With this, I start my 4th year walking…….

20131012-173433.jpg   www.milesformartha.org

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San Diego 3-Day 2015 “who knew?”

The San Diego 3-Day was once again the end of the season highlight. The weather was perfect, and the route is still the best, I will never tire of walking along side the ocean. To make it even better we had great friends join us. Nancy, Eileen and Erick from Washington DC, and Jen from Cincinnati. This same group invaded the Twin Cites last year, and decided to keep the fun rolling! Joining us was my new love Lisa, who was now becoming a Minnesotan, after having moved from her native Michigan back in June. Lisa and I met walking in Chicago in 2013, and quickly realized that a special angel had made the ultimate set up. This was never more evident than on Saturday, under the tent I was given the opportunity to once again honor my Martha. I spoke about how this amazing woman had prepared me for my next life, one that I did not want or expect to happen. She let me know that she not only saw me with someone new, but that it could be for another 30 years. The words she spoke I will never forget, “and it’ll be OK”, I still shake my head at her unselfish love for me. Well, turns out she was right. I did meet someone, and I could see it being for another 30 years. It was time to make it official, and I could not have a better place than in front of my Komen 3-Day family. I brought Lisa to the stage, asked a big question, and got the answer I had hoped for. Even the San Diego newspaper picker up the love story, http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/nov/22/san-diego-3-day-susan-g-komen-walk/. We spent our Sunday being congratulated by so many wonderful people. People that understand the journey I have been on, people that have seen the light that Martha shined on us all, people that we will always call friends. Once again thank you 3-Day community for helping heal a heart in desperate need. We’ll see you on the trail next year!


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The Atlanta 3-Day – Finding a key that opened a heavy door

2015-10-20 12.26.352015-10-18 14.31.38 2015-10-17 09.53.312015-10-17 20.24.04  2015-10-18 07.39.472015-10-16 17.33.16 2015-10-18 14.24.43  What an amazing journey that I was fortunate enough to take this last weekend. I completed my 19th 3-Day 60 mile walk with a wonderful Miles for Martha team, and the continued love and support from good friends, both old and new. My team was small, just 4 of us, but strong in body and spirit. Glen Dekeyser (25th walk!), is the gentlemen that helped open my eyes to the 3-Day 3 years ago, and a masterful Ole and Lena joke teller as well. My incredible twin nieces Katie and Lindsey provided me with love, laughter, and often moments that just make you scratch your head! This was their first 3-Day and as I had hoped it will not be there last. They brought joy to the route and were touched by the stories they heard, while their own indelible spirit lifted many a walker along the way. Each event has a different effect on me, this one more than others. I thought for some period of time that I had been handling my grief in a positive way. I was open, talked about Martha and what she meant to me and our family. I felt the pain of her loss at certain times or on certain days. Wondered aloud why it happened to someone that had already been through so much. What I did not realize is that with each episode, each sense of helplessness I was pushing those feelings back behind a door that was difficult to open. A door that I did not know even existed. Some may call it being strong, others may call it suppression, but at the end of the day when you don’t even know what you are doing, it is just hiding the inevitable. With each day of this long walk I could sense something within. My nieces were using many keys to open the long dormant door, some of them worked and I felt my emotions starting to escape. Yet I kept pulling the door closed, trying to be the strong example. They kept at it though and on Sunday they really started to pull at that damn door. While holding Lindsey’s hand, and with my arm around Katie, I shared a story that really started to open me up, and I know that they sensed this as well. Yet once again strength, and more so the concentration of getting through the final day finally won out. We finished with laughs, hugs, and incredible memories. They had to leave before closing, and I had lost Glen along the route, so I was taken in by my amazing friend Carolyn Parks and her team, Feet to Beat breast cancer. A tailgate led to good conversations and primed us for an inspirational closing. Closings always get to me, I often lose it the minute I take off my shoe. I always feel so honored to be a part of this, and to help the survivors know that there is hope. I do also feel my loss when the survivors make their way in. I so bad want Martha to be there, but I soon realize she is, in the presence of each and every one of these amazing women.  This day was different though, no matter how hard I tried to rationalize my feelings, the women of Feet to Beat kept bringing them back to the surface. Then it happened, the person with the final key, the one that would open the door wide, took hold of me. My incredible friend, one of my original walking angels from 2013, Carolyn, hugged me. It was within her embrace, surrounded by loving friends and the support of this 3-day family that I truly just let go. I felt myself trying to breathe, as my emotions flowed, and then she said, “I will not be the first one to let go” with this I lost hold of the handle and the door was kicked aside.  I tried to let go but could not, I was not just holding Carolyn, I was holding Martha, my daughter Ally, my son Rob, my nieces, and even my new love Lisa. All were a part of opening me up, but it was Carolyn who was chosen as the Angel to allow it to happen.  God bless her, her team, my teammates, the 3-Day family, all helped to bring something out of me that needed to be exposed.  I was so emotionally spent that I had to find a curb after the ceremony to sit on for a while just to take it all in. Upon arising I felt renewed, exhausted, but renewed.  A feeling that will help carry me each day, moving forward, while holding the past so dear.

Once again it just proves the strength of this amazing community, and that it is never “just a walk”

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Sorry, I have not kept this up to date!

I want to apologize for not keeping this blog up to date. I have been spending any free time for Miles for Martha keeping the website and the Facebook page current. Because of this, the writing has suffered. I will catch up soon and have as always appreciate the kind words I receive from so many about my posts from the past.

Thank you for your understanding.        John

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Looking back, while moving forward – The Twin Cities 3-Day

I recently completed my 900th mile upon finishing my first 3-Day this year. As exhilarating as that was, it was the beginning of this event that took me to a familiar place. As I stood on the steps of the opening ceremony stage waiting to appear and honor my Martha with brief yet meaningful words, my legs began to tremble. I felt this wave of loss, and thought back to all that she had been through, all that we had been through and wondered to myself, why. Why did she have be taken, she had paid her dues, fought the fight, and was a winner. I think about her daily, but without a doubt, it is in church, and at each Komen event that I feel her presence the most. I tried to calm my legs so that I could make it up the steps carrying the “Wife” flag and say the words that would help to once again let others know of her presence. Then as it always seems to happen I felt her hand on my shoulder, calming me, giving me strength, and telling me she is OK. She was a winner, no longer in pain, in the presence of a God that she so fervently had faith in, and showing her grace to me always. I had words on paper, but once I started they just came from my heart. I grabbed the hand of my fellow presenter, we made our way down the stairs and I into the waiting hug of my daughter Ally. She knew, she knew that her mom had just touched me, and in her hug I felt her presence. This was the beginning of another beautiful, amazing 3-Day experience. I walked with angels from last year, and met new ones along the way. I was able to reflect on how far I had come and the path that she has led me along. She allowed me to, and taught me to love again. Her grace and unselfishness has allowed me to be happy, while still feeling a permanent sense of loss. She delivered to me a walking angel in Chicago that now walks with me into a brighter future. I am now on my way to Seattle for miles 901 to 960, and a reunion with good friends from Leave it to Cleavage, and Valley Girls and Guys. The next 3 days will once again take me a familiar place, yet it is one that I look forward to visiting the rest of my life. I will never tire of looking back, for it always takes me another step forward.


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Just the first training walk, it’s never “just” a walk


As I started out on my first training walk of the year with the Twin Cities 3-Day just over a month away, I was immediately met by something so familiar, tears. I had not even gone a half mile of my 8 mile effort when the thoughts of the past year rushed back in. I could not stop the flood as I recalled just where I was at this time last year both physically and mentally. I was just getting started on an incredible journey, one that would take me to 14 cities and begin the most amazing healing process. With each step last night all of the sights, the sounds, and the love from my fellow walking community came rushing back. I had forgotten just how inspiring and spiritual a simple walk can be. The key component is time, many dread the training because of the time involved, not me. I love being able to decompress, open my mind, and allow the thoughts and dreams to invade my space. I still think of Martha and all that she meant to me, my kids, and what she went through with each step. Her presence will be forever felt and reminds me that the battle is still not won, which gives each step purpose. I am still amazed at the resiliency of the human heart. Mine is much larger than I ever imagined, and to be able to have a permanent hole in it while encompassing a new and very special love baffles me. God has truly gifted me with a heart that holds a life I will always treasure, and gives me hope for the life I have ahead me. I look forward to my next walk and what each step will bring. Because it’s never JUST a walk.

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John’s Journey of Love


A story done by Rena Sarigianopoulos of Kare11, the Twin Cites NBC affiliate.

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