The husband of inspirational runner Gabriele "Gabe" Grunewald has shared his grief over her death in an emotional post about the pain of her loss and his drive to maintain hope for the future in her memory.
Justin Grunewald posted a picture of his smiling wife on Instagram Tuesday with a candid caption about the raw emotions he has experienced since she died from cancer at 32 in June.
"Day 68, @gigrunewald, and I think I miss you more,'' he wrote. "Honestly, every day hurts differently. It hurts in the same places, right over the heart, and in the back of the throat. Every day, at some point, I’ll excuse myself to the bathroom, to outside, or to our bedroom, when the pain builds up enough that I have to cry. It’s always the same but it’s always different."
Grunewald added that the pain over losing his wife is not what he fears the most.
"Some days it comes in multiple short increments, some days it lasts hours,'' he wrote. "It’s always easy to let it out at the cemetery where we chat. Honestly, the pain feels so much better than the numb feeling that can mix in. The numb is scary."
Gabe was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009 when she was a distance runner studying at the University of Minnesota.
She was treated for a rare form of cancer in the salivary gland called adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC), but then was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a year later.
She persevered through treatments and surgeries to continue her running career, finishing in fourth place in the 1,500-meter race at the 2012 Olympic trials. She ran a personal best in the same race one year later and won the indoor 3,000-meter national title in 2014.
The ACC returned in 2016, prompting doctors to remove 50% of her liver in a surgery that left her with a scar across her abdomen, according to her website. Even still, she pushed to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
She and Justin were frequent running partners and shared a love of the sport that has given him solace after her death.
"Running gives me a chance to control the pain,'' he wrote. "Sometimes, it still breaks through, and I can cry on the run which is beautifully miserable. Hyperventilating while trying to run faster. Thanks for making me run through it all; it probably saved me."
"I’ll keep running. And I’ll keep reminding myself, as I have every day since the last time I held your hand, that it’s ok to struggle, but it’s not ok to give up. I’ll remember that every day for the rest of my life when it gets hard. And it does. #bravelikegabe#runningonhope"