Yesterday, I was up before the sun, 3:34am to be exact, my mind off and running long before the early 5am alarm for the morning race. The air was absolutely divine. I stepped out on to the deck to take a deep, quiet inhale of the cool dry breeze, which after the heat wave we just had was heavenly and it's soothing caresses bespoke sweet iterations of what the day might bring.
We jostled the kids out of bed, a little reluctant at first, but then the excitement of the occasion swept them into motion. My boys have been cheering on runners, namely their dad, since their youngest days, as evident by my littlest one's exclamation on the sidelines, "More runners! Hold this mom! (a leaf he found and was carrying around) I have to clap!". I guess my cheerleading days had a greater purpose after all. This was the first time they got to participate themselves, and even though they ended up riding (and napping) and we carried and had to encourage them a lot of they way, I was so so proud and touched by this little family's effort.
There is something about a race day, the throng of positive energy and the gathering of so many people united by a singular purpose at the dawning of a brand new day. We hold our signs, we put on our team colors, we wear our pride on our sleeves and we all root one another to the finish line. Our collective souls stand together in a string of moments that are palpable and very grounded in the present. It is life affirming, this feeling of being so completely wide awake.
This particular event was extra-special, emotional even, as the whole family wore the names of three beloved family members honoring their lives and their fights for perseverance in the wake of cancer. Around us was a sea of others just like us, wearing names, photos and dates of loved ones lost as well as the names of those who were still in the fight of their lives. "My mom is kicking cancer's ass" was scrawled across one woman's pink tank top in black sharpie, and "We will never forget you, Mom. We miss you every day." was worn by two, identical 12 year old twin boys standing in line next to my son at the slush cart at Mile 4.
It was impossible to not feel both the tremendous love as well the unimaginable pain.
But it also was impossible to not feel buoyed by such immense love and the collective hope of so many.
I needed to walk this year to feel this laid upon me, to be reminded, to let go. By walking in such a brilliant pool of light created by thousands of hearts wide-open for 6.2 miles, I am glowing. I hope my kids felt it as well and will carry bits of inspiration from this day with them, and my dad too, my Nana even.
A reminder that we love you so much, and we will never, ever forget.