Just days after Justin Grunewald shared a personal goodbye letter to his wife battling cancer, he also had to say goodbye permanently.
Gabriele Grunewald, an elite U.S. runner and Olympic hopeful, died in Minneapolis on Tuesday at the age of 32.
She had been documenting her rare salivary gland cancer battle on social media, gaining thousands of followers along the way.
According to People magazine, the runner was first diagnosed in 2009 and in the next year, discovered she also had thyroid cancer. She continued to run through her surgeries, winning titles and placing fourth in the 2012 USA Olympic trials.
“I always felt like the Robin to your Batman and I know I will never be able to fill this gaping hole in my heart or fill the shoes you have left behind. Your family loves you dearly as do your friends,” her husband Justin Grunewald wrote on his Instagram page the day she died.
On Monday, Justin Grunewald shared a goodbye letter to his wife after her condition got worse.
“It breaks my heart to say but overnight Gabriele’s status worsened with worsening liver function causing confusion. Wanting to do her no harm we have made the difficult decision to move her to comfort cares this afternoon.”
He originally wrote the letter years ago, but wanted to share it again with her followers.
“Thank you so much for showing me what it’s like to be and feel alive. It’s easy to pass through life day to day and punch a time card wishing away the hours. Currently although I don’t always show it, I cherish every second. Whether we are out running, binging on a new Netflix series, or just lying in bed being lazy. Nothing beats the feeling I get when I see your smiling face,” he wrote on his Instagram page.
“I know life is scary and I know we have won the lottery of uncertainty, and it’s not fair, but I still choose our life of uncertainly and at times fear, over any alternative option I could think of.
“I have so much fun with you and have learned more from having you as my best friend and wife than I learned in the rest of my life combined.”
“I know you have been given the heaviest of tasks in life,” he continued. “The task of being brave despite feeling enormous amounts of fear.”
The New York Times added that over time, Gabriele or “Gabe” began to be known for her scars.
“No matter where they fall, or where they came from, scars are a testament to power and survival — something to wear with pride. We’ll let these warriors show you. Every scar tells a story,” she wrote on Instagram in January.
“I have a love/hate relationship with my scars from my battles with cancer over the years. I love that they’ve often given me back my health or improved my prognosis, but I hate that they have to be there in the first place.”
Justin Grunewald added that in her final days, his wife was at home surrounded by family and friends.
“We got her home to our comfy couch and she is resting peacefully and breathing easy surrounded by her best friends and family. She made it home in time to see some extra special finishes put on our new condo to make it feel like home.”