six months ago i was running, feeling happy and free, when one misstep changed my life. i fractured my tibia, bruised my femur and tore my meniscus. i was then sentenced to a leg brace and crutches which led me to spend three months in socal with my parents. i couldn't work and i couldn't walk, so i had to depend on others for the first time in a long time. it was a difficult and most humbling lesson.
i was born with a hearing loss and so i never knew differently. as long as i can remember i've worn hearing aids and they are just a part of me and my life, one i never really think about. it wasn't until i was a teenager that my vision loss was discovered and only after that did i notice any changes. it's been ten years since i was diagnosed and i've almost reached a point where i can't remember how much i could see before. the last time i remember seeing stars was was the summer of 2002. i wish i had a clearer memory of that night, but it was the night of my first kiss so stars weren't front and center. i do remember seeing a shooting star, making a wish, and being really happy. you never think that any moment will be the last time. you never think about the little things you will miss later. having a broken leg reiterated all the little things i missed doing on my own: cooking, carrying anything, freedom to easily move around, taking a shower, sleeping comfortably. it was like all my basic human functions were made to be either difficult or painful. and let's not forget the obvious missing piece, running.
i remember thinking one time how it was funny, in an awful way, that i was accumulating physical handicaps. hearing, seeing, walking...what a trifecta! i've gotten down about going blind at times in the past (and i know it will affect me at times in the future) but having a broken leg hit me really hard. it was emotionally destructive and i really struggled with it. i don't know if it was the cherry on top or what, but being on crutches for 13.5 weeks was a huge challenge for me. there were times i was in a wheelchair and it opened my eyes to a whole new world. you know that saying how you can't know what someone is going through until you walk a mile in their shoes? try rolling a mile in their chair to really learn compassion. so much time was spent just getting from one place to another, even as simple as moving from one room to another. i went to disneyland and used a wheelchair for the day. yes, front of the line perks, but mostly it was eye opening using a crowded public bathroom in a chair. i was often surprised how rude and careless people were, but i was also touched by the kindness of strangers. i met a man who offered to pay for my seat upgrade on my flight from LA to DC, a woman gave me her paul mitchell hair appointment at the Nike Race Expotique, and on my flight back home a flight attendant took special care to give me ice packs and extra snacks. there were enough people to restore faith in humanity.
there were friends who were also great at being supportive and encouraging, letting me cry and vent but also never letting me pity myself. my parents were also amazing, taking me in and caring for me like i was a kid again. my dad even said me being home was like having a five year old around, always having to prepare food for me, carry things for me, do my laundry, etc. i am so thankful and blessed to have loving parents. of course we have had our differences, and i'm sure there were countless times i yelled "i hate you!" as a kid, but i've come to realize my parents are good people. like REALLY good people. they are trustworthy and reliable, responsible and caring, and most importantly, faithful. Faithful to God, family and friends. last week i witnessed the strength of my parents' character when i was at a funeral of a dear family friend. i felt so proud and lucky to be their kid.
my dad's best friend passed away recently and i flew home for the funeral. i wanted to be there for my dad, and because i had grown up with the family. they were good people, and i know they were especially good to my parents when my dad was first diagnosed. Tony and Diane were there the day my dad had surgery and found out it was cancer. Diane comforted my crying sister while Tony put his arm around my mom as she told him it was the worst day of her life. he told her it was going to be ok, we were all going to get through this. i wish i had been there, but i was kept in the dark about how serious things were at the time. my parents didn't want me to worry, so i was 400 miles away and oblivious to the gravity of the situation. Tony and Diane were there for the doctor visits and to help out after, offering prayers and support and love. years before Tony battled prostrate cancer and survived, so i think it was really comforting for my parents to have them around. They had been there done that.
about a year ago Tony, who never smoked, was diagnosed with lung cancer. it was devastating news for everyone. i remember feeling heartbroken that this man had to endure cancer, AGAIN. this time around the news was worse, as the cancer had spread to other organs and his brain. whenever i talked to my dad i would ask for updates, but oftentimes the news was not encouraging. my dad is a stoic man and does not like to burden others with his feelings. i always ask how he is doing and the response is the same: "i'm ok" these past couple of months my parents have visited Tony almost daily, helping care for him and for his family. My mom bought groceries and help cleaned the house. she comforted Diane and the kids, all adults. she babysat grandchildren. my dad watched his best friend slowly die from cancer as he went through his own cancer treatments. i can't even imagine what my parents felt and went through. i only know that they have incredible strength and faith. at the service i saw how grateful Diane and all five kids were for my parents' support and friendship. it made me see the beauty of a 30+ year friendship between families. and i appreciate my parents even more now.
in six days i am running the Nike Women's Half Marathon. last year i ran the race in honor of my dad, who is still fighting cancer. this year i will run in memory of Tony, who was one of those rare individuals to touch so many lives. my dad was asked to say something at the service and in his speech he says how he looked up to Tony. i think my dad is the best guy ever (despite being really stubborn and making fun of my pink hair) so if he looked up to Tony then that speaks volumes. i know this race will be physically difficult with 30,000 people (30,000 tripping hazards!) i am so happy and thankful i'm able to run again. that i have recovered from a broken leg and broken spirit, that i have strong healthy lungs to carry my legs through 13.1 miles. that despite blindness, i am still running.