Running a marathon is one of the most difficult challenges that a person can face in their lives. While most of us are only considering the physical toll that will be taken when we attempt to complete these sorts of feats, we do not always stop to consider the emotional costs. For Troy Austin, a recent marathon presented a far greater emotional challenge than most of us will ever face.
There was one phrase that he heard throughout the race that served as an emotional trigger. He was pushing an empty stroller and fellow racers who did not know the significance of this gesture repeatedly asked him if he had lost his child. While the comments were initially made in a good natured manner, Troy turned to the first racer and let them know that this was the point.
The woman who made the joke realized her mistake immediately and was very apologetic. Her smile vanished right away and she hugged Troy to let him know how sorry she was. Troy had chosen to push the stroller during his run as a means of raising awareness about stillbirth. His son T.G. was a victim of this all too common occurrence.
When his wife’s 27 week ultrasound showed that the child’s heart was no longer beating, the doctors attempted to induce labor in order to save the child. After the loss of his son, physical exertion was one of the only ways for him to cope with the fact that the stroller he had bought for his little boy would remain in the garage untouched.
Other racers who commented on the empty stroller were told that Troy had in fact lost his child and that he would not be getting him back. While some of the racers who inquired about the stroller were left in stunned silence when they found out the reason, there were others who attempted to mask their discomfort by letting out a nervous chuckle or two.
In Troy’s mind, the stroller was not truly empty because T.G.’s memory still remains. Brett, Troy’s friend, ran with him in the marathon and according to him, the experience was a major eye opener. The explanations were difficult to sit through, but for Brett, it was a honor and a privilege to run alongside his friend and honor the memory of his lost child.