A lot of things make me cry, but lately, running and the moments it has brought into my life and into my field of vision, make me cry. Truth be told, it has been a little unexpected, even for me. I feel like my life has been one big tear-jerking Hallmark commercial. It’s all good but seriously it has been a waterworks kind of year so far.
Right now I have about 5 posts in my ‘hopper’ waiting to be written, people I’ve met over the last few months, people, lovely people, that I would like to support and advocate for through my blog. This morning I was excited to get started, but then while catching up on FB, in between the funny and not so funny cartoons and photo’s of your breakfast, I found myself a little teary, with a new post in mind. I think you’ll understand it’s urgency, kindness should be shared.
We all have causes near and dear to us, we all have challenges, worries and empty Kleenex boxes at some point in our lives. I hope that doesn’t seem too bold of a statement though I’m sure you will agree, sadly I find that someone always know someone with “insert their cause here”. The world gets smaller when we share our stories and reach out to others. Never hesitate to share, to reach, I promise you that it will change your life.
This connection that we share, that moment where I recognize me in you, and you in me, is partly why I enjoy advocating for others. You may not know the life of Type 1 Diabetes, but you can relate it to something that shakes you at your core, puts a crack in your foundation. It is something that shifted your perspective, pushed you, pulled you and sometimes paralyzed you, and then moved you forward. And not to make assumptions, though I think many of you reading this right now know what it feels like to be tired and frustrated, fierce and empowered, or you love someone that does.
There is a health challenge, a disease, a pain, a burden, you can’t control it, but there are options, you can embrace it or you can reject. You can ignore it or look it straight in the eye. You realize that whatever ‘it’ is, it is not going anywhere and neither are you. So you decide to make it work, you’re going to figure it out, and all the while you vow to do what you can to make this life or the life of another better. Whether you raise awareness, raise funds or raise spirits, it is all important. It is all connected.
With that darkness comes light, a lot of light. Because we also have dreams and hopes and wishes, and there are people, whether we know them or not, that cross our paths and keep us moving forward and remind us that everything we do is important. They remind us that it’s o.k. to be tired, to take a break, and its also o.k. to be tireless, and to be as relentless as the disease that resides in your body or your child’s body. It all takes strength and together we are stronger.
As I scrolled through posts of friends running races this morning, sharing air high fives, and offering virtual hugs for friends requesting prayers for loved ones, I started making a mental checklist of people that have expanded my heart in the last couple of weeks, and realized most of these moments centered around running.
First up, my friend Heather. I won’t go into detail here, but we did the Colfax 1/2 in Denver together (more about that event in a later post) and it was a true test for both of us in different ways. I’ve been struggling with knee issues and feeling completely challenged with my own mental toughness and commitment during training runs. Sometimes getting myself to the top of the list is like trying to climb a slippery pole, it just leaves me exhausted and frustrated.
Around mile 11 my knee was just done, hurting more than it had in the past. I was ‘saving’ myself for mile 13 so I could just give it all that I had, but when I started to run at mile 13 I realized that wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t want to keep Heather behind more than I already had, and urged her to go ahead, just gun it. She declined and kept telling me that we were going to do it together. My heart ached as much as my knee did in that moment.
I’m so used to doing stuff on my own, without complaint, well for the most part. You know, just do it and get it done, and sometimes…complain about it later, but just do it anyway. I’m a suck it up kind of girl, but I’ll be the first to offer a hug.
Since Logan’s T1D diagnosis and with our families spread out all over the United States, which is not unique these days, though sometimes feels that way, Tony and I along with the kids have become this tight unit, a well oiled machine. If I lean on anyone it’s Tony, we pass the baton between us, a two-person relay. It works for us. He knows the nitty gritty of our days and nights, when Logan’s blood sugar is off the charts and he’s not sleeping, or when he’s so low that you have to check him every 20 minutes starting at 2 a.m., until he gets back in range. When I’m tired or crabby, I can just be that, though he probably lets me get away with it more often than I should.
So when someone else stretches their hand out for the baton it startles me. They are offering a hand, some kindness and a piece of their heart, and I admit it’s tough for me to take sometimes. I am always grateful for it, though it takes me a minute to let go of my “I’m fine, I”m o.k., I can do it. ” mantra.
We are approaching the finish line, Heather a few steps ahead of me, cheering me on, “C’mon, we’re doing this together, give me your hand.” and I hesitate, almost in tears from the pain in my knee but it also brings this tidal wave of emotions to the surface, hovering in my throat, this is what kindness does to me, and at the most unexpected moments. Every day kindness, not a problem, no kleenex required, in fact I love everyday kindness, have at it. Kindness of the heart, untethered, well that makes me reach for the kleenex. Every time. (Yep, that little sliver is me and Heather holding hands across the finish line…I cropped for two reasons, one, that’s where the heart of that moment was, and two- it’s a proof photo ;)).
Then came Mary, that’s the back of her t-shirt up at the top. She trained and trained hard for her sprint triathlon yesterday and I wanted to be there to cheer her on. I was at the finish line when she ran her first 1/2 awhile back and I wanted to see her complete her tri yesterday.
Like most of us, she is hard on herself, but when she is out there giving it her all I hope she is proud of herself, she is focused and strong.
Over the last year Mary has been privy to more detailed conversations about Logan’s T1D care and the worries that I struggle with as they pop up here and there, so when she chose the JDRF for her fundraising it just made my heart swell. Regardless of who Mary was fundraising for that day I would have been there at the finish line to cheer her on. I listen to her during the weeks prior to the event, she struggles, like most of us do, with scheduling her training runs, rides and swims, but all I hear is one strong Mom. She trains hard, she plays hard and she loves big, and I have no doubt that her children feel that even when she is frustrated as she navigates her day trying to squeeze it all in.
Earlier in the week I had mentioned to my family that Mary was doing a triathlon at our local reservoir and they didn’t miss a beat, they wanted to see her in action. I do admit that they were a little leery of getting up that early on a Saturday as our late night summer schedule had already kicked in, but it only took a few seconds before Zoe was saying “We have to make signs for her…” and out came the Sharpies. Logan thought it was pretty cool that she was raising money for T1D research, a little puzzled though because her children didn’t have Type 1. Zoe’s head popped up from her sign making and said, “Pretty cool that she’s doing it for you…” and just as quickly returned to her sign making. Kids get it right every time.
So we cheered Mary on, we missed her by a hair getting to the start of her swim but I saw her stretching from a distance and spotted her green swim cap as we watched her take off. We yelled as she came out of the water hoping that she would see us, and when she spotted us and gave us that warm smile after emerging from that cold water I was so happy that we were there. We were lucky enough to see her transition from her bike to her run and then watch her cross the finish line. Happy to give her a hug, so, so happy for her.
The music was blaring and anyone that knows Logan knows that means you must dance. He broke out into his version of the robot and Mary joined him. All I could think was “Seriously, you rock”, I don’t think I would even be standing much less doing the robot.
I admit I love being the one running in the event, but there is something magical about cheering people on. It is inspirational, motivating and so rewarding. If you are thinking about your first event, I promise, go cheer someone on and you will want to go home and lace up or maybe write out a check to someones fundraising effort, we all have a part in it, but I encourage you to lace up first ;).
While we were waiting for Mary, we cheered others across the line, so many amazing athletes and we yelled really loud for the man that was in his 70’s. We had cheered for him earlier when he came out of the water, shameful of our own lack of motivation lately.
Then there was a man that caught my attention, he was quietly approaching the finish line. His two young boys cheering for him, very shyly with contagious smiles. I was watching their faces, so proud and excited, the older of the two sharing “That’s our dad”. I looked up and noticed that he was using an oxygen tube, carrying a tank in his backpack. A few other spectators noticed it too, whispers of ‘that is amazing…that is so great…wow” circled us. As he crossed the finish line the announcer said his name, congratulated him and shared that he was fundraising for the https://www.nationaljewish.org/ and that he, the athlete, suffered from pulmonary hyper tension.
So running, it makes me cry. Sometimes in frustration but mostly because of how it connects people and oozes with spontaneous kindness and support. Like Heather- showing me that it’s o.k. to take someones hand, and Mary, showing me that it’s o.k. to be the spectator, to let someone else run the race for you. And that man, a Dad, an advocate, an athlete, and the biggest hero in his son’s eyes, running with pulmonary hyper tension, showing me that life is amazing and the spirit is strong.