Thursday, May 17, 2012

What is your most proud moment?

I bet you think I am going to say something about my child.  Nope.  He's a good kid for the most part but I can't take credit for any of his accomplishments and I won't take credit for his shenanigans either.

A few years ago, we lost my grandmother to breast cancer.  I was devastated.  The following year (2004) I decided that I wanted to do something in her honor so I signed up for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer- Boston.  I knew I could raise the minimum amount of money ($1800.00) and - with a lot of help-I did.  It was me I wasn't so sure of.  Think about it.  I was in my late 30's, overweight, a smoker, and I didn't work out.  Oh I walked- for work and for necessity- not for fitness.  But I wanted to do it.  I wanted to at least try.  I went to the pre-walk meetings and they stressed time and again that just getting out there was the goal.  There was no shame in not finishing.  Walk one day, one hour, one mile, one step and we stand up to breast cancer.  I felt a little better about it but I was still determined to try.

The big day came and I got there bright and early.  I looked out at that sea of pink tees and I listened to the inspirational words from survivors and I cried.  As the tears coursed down my face, I took a deep breath and started walking.  Well, I stopped at each "rest stop" and took my time, and five hours later I crossed the 13.1 mile mark and made it to the Wellness Village where we were spending the night in tents.  I was exhausted.  My feet hurt.  My body was freezing.  My legs were trembling. The first thing I did was head for the shower trucks.  As I was fairly early in, there weren't a lot of people in the Village yet so I could shower for a long time to try and relax my muscles.  After that, I went to the medical tent to have my blisters dressed and then I visited for a bit with other walkers, ate my dinner and crashed hard.  I woke up early the next morning and crawled out of my sleeping bag in the dark.  I do mean CRAWLED out of that sleeping bag.  I headed back into the shower, braided my hair, got dressed, packed up my stuff and dropped it off at the trucks that would bring it back before heading very S.L.O.W.L.Y to the med tents again to have the blisters re-dressed before heading to breakfast.  At that time, I couldn't imagine being in worse pain.  While I ate I stretched out as best I could to at least try to make the first mile.  When they "released" the first group of us for the morning I was telling myself "One mile.  Make it one mile and there will be no shame in getting a ride to the end.  You already did 13.  Just one mile."  One foot in front of the other, I made it the mile to the first "potty stop".  By then I was warmed up and told myself as I grabbed a water "One more and you will hit 15.  You can do this!".  At each stop, with each step I thought of my Gran and I told myself "just a little more- you can keep going."   I trudged on, one step in front of the other.  I took strength (both days) from the friends, family members, survivors and folks who were not associated with the walk in any way who cheered us on all throughout the route.  I even bribed myself: "If you make it up Bunker Hill- you can stop at the next Starbucks we see to grab a macchiato to keep you going" (BTW- Bunker Hill SUCKED- but I earned that macchiato!)  At just about 12:30 I turned the corner toward the end of the route and stopped to just look for a minute.  There were people lined up and cheering the entire last mile.  Seeing those people out there brought tears to my eyes.  Even now, just closing my eyes and seeing it again makes me tear up.  I took a deep breath and started walking again.  One step, two steps, on and on until I crossed that finish line.  I got my T-shirt and a couple of snacks and then caught sight of my husband and son.  Their hugs were the final straw.  I sat down in the grass and as I gently pulled off my sneakers and socks to exchange them for the flip-flops they brought the tears just ran down my face.  I had done it.  I made it through the whole 26.2 miles.  I had represented my Gran in the only way I knew how and I sent up a whispered prayer to let her know how much I loved her.  The boys helped me over to have my blisters re-dressed and then we made our way to the car to head back home.  Even though I was exhausted and hurting- I felt like a million dollars.

                                                  May 19th 2007- on the Charles in Boston

It was that feeling that spurred me on to do it again each of the next 3 years until we moved out of New England. In my last year, Josh was finally able to walk with me.  That is an experience I will never forget.  Walking with him was so special, walking two years post-RA diagnosis was an accomplishment, but nothing will ever match the triumph of finishing that first year.  

Day 2 May 20, 2007- almost to the finish 

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