Friday, June 25, 2010
By JOHN NAUGHTON, Des Moines Register
Sprinter Duronal Monal will slide his mother's gold ring on his finger before he steps into the starting blocks today.
He'll breathe in, expanding his chest that is covered with a angel tattoo, its wings spreading side to side in tribute to her.
As he crosses the finish line at the USA Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium, his thoughts will turn to his mother, who died May 12 of a head injury triggered by the Haitian earthquake four months earlier.
She was his biggest track fan, calling him "God's Gift" - a phrase inked on his chest. Jyloette Meide has passed away, but Monal said he never runs alone.
"All the time, all the time," Monal said Wednesday as he stretched out at Urbandale High School. "I feel like her presence is here."
Monal, who is from Belle Glade, Fla., recently competed as a senior for East Tennessee State. He'll run in the 100 and 200 meters at this week's meet. His first race is a 100 first-round event today.
He's still dealing with the loss of his mother, though.
Meide, a business owner who frequently traveled from Florida to Haiti, was in Haiti during the Jan. 12 earthquake.
"It's been real hard for me," Monal said. "She was a real big supporter."
The house Meide was in collapsed as the ground rocked and rattled. Several hundred thousand people were killed and many others trapped in the rubble, like Meide.
For nearly a week, Monal said, he didn't know if his mother was dead or alive.
"We finally got her back," Monal said.
Meide survived the ordeal and returned to the United States. She was reunited with her son, supporting his dreams to become a national track champion.
But the earthquake claimed another victim. Meide had received a serious head injury and died of a brain hemorrhage in Miami on May 12 - four months after the earthquake.
Monal was preparing for the Atlantic Sun Conference meet.
His mother died on a Wednesday. On the following Saturday, he was named the meet's outstanding performer after winning the 100 and 200.
Then he traveled to his mother's funeral.Monal will try to make them proud, the same way his running inspired his mother's joy.
He wanted to find a way to honor Meide. He drew a picture of an angel, wings spread wide, with "God's Gift" above the artwork.
Monal sat back as a tattoo artist inked that image into his chest.
"Two hours," Monal said. "Two painful hours."
He was given a gold band that belonged to his mother. He slips it on during races.
That ring was the one his mother wore when she went into the hospital in May.
He said he'll have some family support in the crowd this week. His four sisters and his brother will be cheering for him.
"She always was telling me that I was God's Gift," Monal said.