Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Poem

Yesterday Angela encouraged me to go for a run. I know that must sound crazy, but she succeeded in getting me to run the very short distance of 0.15 miles. That's about a minute. After that I was beat. We agreed that I would add 0.05 miles every day and in two weeks I would be able to run one full mile. So, as agreed I ran 0.2 miles today.

One of the most valued friendships that I found over that last couple of years is that with the co-author of our musical 'RICH', Vern Thiessen. Vern and I have only known each other for two years but have grown very close through our work together. He has taught me a lot about the industry, life, and friendship and I will be forever grateful for that. Vern lives in New York at the moment and he had a chance to come visit Winnipeg about three weeks ago while I was at my worst and in the hospital. I was barely able to speak to him and he left me with a late birthday gift; a poem that he wrote for me. Seeing that I was really sick, I waited until yesterday night to have it read to me by Angela. It took only a few lines before I was in tears. I asked Vern if I would be allowed to share it with all of you and here it is:

As a footnote I would like to point out that Pheidippides was the soldier that ran the distance from Marathon to Athens to announce the victory over the Persians. He died upon arriving after shouting out the message "We have won!".


You have run
my friend
from dusty Rome
to the deserts of Vegas
like ancient Pheidippides
from Marathon
you have run
to deliver the message in your heart:
"I am alive."

Twenty six miles
Pheidippides ran
his body battered
his stomach screaming
his mouth melting
every swallow
a nest of nails
every breath
begging him to stop.
Like you my friend
he hit his wall.
But when he saw the flag of Athens
flapping in the distance
he drew air deep into his lungs
and carried on.

You have felt the wall
my friend
at the Spanish Steps
or the Luxor Hotel.
You have seen the flag of the finish line
and like Pheidippides
you have done
what all great runners do
put one foot down
then another
till the message is delivered:
"I am alive."

But don't be mistaken
my friend
you are no Pheidippides.
Oh no.
Stronger than a soldier
you are
mightier than a myth
you could race him
a thousand times
over fennel fields
and the finish
you would never
let the bliss of your blood
burst your heart
as he did
you would never
lay down at the end and die
Oh no.
You will see the flag of the Forks
and you will run to it.
You will cross over the line and shout
"I am alive."

And when you have showered
and rested
and drank your fill
we'll sit down
one more
you and I
to eat cake.


Laura said...

This tribute is so so touching. Your amazing friends and supporters are a testament to the person that you are. Thank you Vern from the bottom of my heart.

JJ said...

What a fabulous poem. A true gift.

So glad that you are in better spirits.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Olaf, for sharing. There will be more Olaf Poems to Come! What Olaf forgot to mention is that we first met a the Forks for a meeting in which we ate a piece of cake together. We made it a ritual every time we met....Keep running Olaf! Love, Vern

gina said...

Here's to cake...and good health! Words are a wonderful way to capture a/the journey!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Vern! And thank you Olaf. Love, Kim

Richard said...

Ditto, ditto, ditto!!!

Leanne said...

Indeed it is the run for your life. Well said Vern. Well done Olaf!

Wendy Broadfoot said...

YOU'RE BACK, and we only had to wait 1 day to hear from you again! You are back running--albeit, short runs--but it is a start towards getting back to normal--way to go!
What a beautiful poem---- a beautiful friend, and such inspiration--thanks for sharing it.

Nolan said...

Absolutely inspirational. So are you.

Anonymous said...

Olaf, The news that you have returned to running should not have surprised me after having witnessed your very intense struggle in the last weeks to hold on to your spirit, and the resolve to regain your health; and knowing that Angela is your greatest coach, supporter,and cheerleader. Sincere appreciation for your many supporters and to your thoughtful friend, Vern who has provided the words that so often failed me. I trust that really good days are not far away, Elizabeth

stephen m said...

It's amazing what the improvement in our body and special people can do for our spirits. Enjoy running, sprite and I'm sure cake will be part of your routine soon.

Blessings of divine light to guide you in paths of healing, joy and peace - physically, emotionally and spiritually.