Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Race

“Mommy, I’m scared,” Dylan says to me as we drive to the dentist on a chilly Saturday morning. Without even thinking I quickly respond, “Don’t worry, I know everything will be fine.” I reassure. Often as a mom, I feel that is one of my core responsibilities – chief reassurer. I know that if I say it with confidence even if I can’t possibly know for sure, that the sound of my voice and the strength of my words will comfort him. And so I do. We are driving in our car. We are warm. We have food. We have gas. We have a place to come home to. All things being what they are, we live in a state of some certainty. My mind shifts to so many friends and family – people I know and love – people I don’t know but still love – who are not so far away from us right now. They are cold and tired. There is no gas, some have no food. Almost all lack certainty. And I want to reassure and comfort them with a clarity in my voice that I couldn’t possibly have, but still ask them to believe.

I begin to think about another group of folks who expected their journey, their race, their months and maybe even years of preparation and training to end at the finish line of the NYC Marathon. They are tired and frustrated. It is a different kind of tired and frustrated than the first group. Still, it is real. They had a race to finish. It seems like they have all this stuff inside of them that they wanted to give and leave on that race course tomorrow and now they don’t know what to do with it. But their training is not for naught. You see that first group – the ones without the certainty or the clarity or the heat – they are in a marathon of their own right now. They could use some training from them on what to do when you are not sure how much deeper you can dig, on how to finish this.
For some, the first couple miles are the hardest part. Make sure to take the time to collect yourself[1]. Find a space which is uniquely yours, even if it is in your own head. My great Aunt Claire once told me that every night she would take a picture in her mind of her happiest place. For her, it was anywhere with great Uncle Eddy. And she would hold that image there and find this great calm and happiness and peace. Find your picture – the boardwalk, your kitchen table, regular life – whatever it is – hold yourself in that image and collect yourself.

For others, mile 23 might be the hardest. You are close to the finish line, but there is still a ways to go. You don’t know what is left in you to finish. Perhaps the marathoners would tell us to think laps, not miles. If you find yourself thinking about all of the different steps and people and dollars and moments that it will take to get back to normal, the weight of what lies ahead will surely overwhelm. For now, celebrate the small victories. Today it’s the gas cans. Tomorrow you’ll worry about finding the gas to put in them (right Segal family? J)
Many will find that it is the last mile that is hardest to finish– the one that is “all heart.” Again, the runners offer up their training: go hard late. Finish strong. You can dig deep enough to push through this and just know that so many of us are running it with you. We are giving blood, and food, and prayers, and money and know that none of it is enough to give you what you really want – the warmth and the comfort that comes with certainty. Knowing what is real, what you have – what can and can’t be taken away.

In my own experience, when you think you can’t fall any further, that’s when you do. So breathe. And then reach out and we will finish this race with you. In as much as we can. No matter how heavy and tired your legs are, we’ll finish it together.


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