Kristina Hoekstra, Tucson, Arizona, July 15, 2011
by Sarah Walls
(Storrs, Connecticut, USA)
Kristina and her son
During the time we spend here in this world friends enter our lives in many different ways, shapes and forms. Accidents happen every day and you never know when they will happen, how they will happen, to whom, or why. This is the story of a friend who came into my life and who left this world, as far as I'm concerned, much too soon.
I moved to Tucson Arizona in the summer of 2004. I didn't know a soul. I started graduate school and made my first friends. On July 15, 2005 I became a mom and made some more friends. After the birth of my first child I also began my journey of getting in shape and falling in love with running. Little did I know, somewhere else in Tucson, there was a mom I would meet four years later who shared the same passion.
I welcomed my second child into the world in February of 2007. After his birth, I was still focused on staying in shape and running. I registered on a site called SeeMommyRun hoping that maybe I might find another mom in Tucson who liked to run and would want to go running together.
On May 26, 2009 I got my first - and only - e-mail from someone off of SeeMommyRun. Her name was Kristina.
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I just joined seeMOMMYrun and noticed you have been a member for a couple years. Your zip is the same as mine. Your pace is about the same as mine. I was hoping that you`re still interested in running. My son is 3 and I don`t get home until 7pm some nights. I like to take my son along, but am new to jogging with a stroller. I`d like to find someone to join me because I`m always reluctant to go out in the dark alone. Please let me know if you`d like to get together for a jog. Thanks! Kristina
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It turns out Kristina messaged a few ladies, but I was the only one that responded, and little did we know this was the beginning of a great friendship. She and I met, and continued to meet, for runs together. We'd most often meet at the paved 3-mile path at Reid Park with her son Frankie in her single jogging-stroller, and my two children in my double jogging-stroller.
It wasn't very long after I met Kristina that I introduced her to my friends. My dear friend Jenn who I also ran, drank coffee, and had play dates with quickly and happily welcomed Kristina in on the running dates at Reid Park. I also quickly extended the invitation to Kristina to join the book club we had with a bunch of friends who were also mothers of young ones. Through the book club we met another runner through another one of our friends: Amy. And Amy soon began joining us for our Reid Park runs, too.
Kristina, Jenn and I all shared the love for a great cup of coffee. Across the street from the 3-mile loop at Reid Park there was a Starbucks, and soon we began incorporating a post-run cup of coffee as a reward. After our runs we'd order our coffee and then we would take the kids to the playground at Reid Park to play as a reward for them sitting in their strollers through another one of
As Kristina and I continued our running dates, we also signed up for several races together. The beautiful thing about running with someone else is that when one of you are having a rough day, you have someone to help motivate you and see you through it, very much like life. Some days we had it, some days we didn't. Some races were great, others were disappointments. But we always stuck it out and were there to support each other.
The bond we forged over the months, and then years, of running together astounded us both. I remember discussing with Kristina one day, on one of our runs, how her one e-mail from SeeMommyRun changed both of our lives for the better. We were mutually and deeply grateful for our friendship.
In December 2010 my husband, children and I moved back to my home state of Connecticut. My husband had accepted a position at UConn and we agreed it would be wonderful to live within driving distance of our families again. However the move would prove extremely difficult for me as for a couple of the friendships I had made in Tucson were much like family.
Team Caffeine (which is what our running group eventually dubbed itself) had its last run together with me on December 16, 2010. I can't begin to tell you how much I miss our runs, post-run coffee, and the kids playing at the park while we drank and caught up on our lives.My homesickness motivated me to plan a trip to visit them all again. In April 2011 I booked a flight to visit my dear Tucson friends for an extended Labor Day weekend in September.
Kristina and I had done the Labor Day Saguaro 8-miler last year and I immediately forwarded my itinerary and told her to sign up for the race; I would be there and we would do it again! Little did I know the tragic turn of events that would take place on a Friday evening in July.
July 15th 2011. Six years ago I welcomed my daughter, our first child, into the world. I could have never expected that on this day of celebration of her birthday I would lose a best friend. Kristina was an amazing, strong and beautiful woman. She had an awesome sense of humor. She had exceptional taste in everything culinary. She always managed to blow me away with her running and her PRs. She was intelligent and witty. She was a creative, silly, imaginative and fun mom. I always admired how she shared her love for reading with her son Frankie, the creative stories and inside jokes they would have, and the incredible lunches she would pack for him. She worked hard and kept her chin up through everything life threw at her. She was such a wonderful friend to me, generous of spirit, and had a huge heart.
My heart breaks for her, for her family, for all the lives she has touched, for all the lives she will never get the chance to touch. The world lost a beautiful person. Kristina: I will never forget the beauty and happiness you brought into my life. Every run I go on, every cup of coffee I drink, every book I read - you will be there. I'm so sorry you were taken from us. I love you. I miss you. I will never forget you.