October 2013 I was supposed to run in my first marathon. February of that same year I had an NMO attack. The attack took away my ability to run, barely leaving me with the ability to walk. October 2013 came and went. My dream of running in the Chicago Marathon faded along with the numbers on the calendar that year. Slowly I rehabbed. I got better as the season changed colors.
September 1, 2014, the unofficial start of autumn, I ran in my first race since my setback.
I say the words to her, "Heart of a servant - strength of fighter. That's what keeps me going. My desire is for you to know that it's possible. That everything is possible. Dream big and do the work." I have always fancied myself as a street philosopher. Here I am preaching to an eight year old little girl who is running simply because she can.
Telling my daughter that I have a disease that was not going away and did not have cure was my biggest fear. Then one day I received a handwritten letter addressed to John & family. The letter was written from a kind woman who herself was raising a son with NMO. The letter was a thank you for the writings I have done on NMO. She went on to express her gratitude for me sharing my journey publicly. The letter filled me with joy and tears. The letter was the bridge (the gift) on how to tell my daughter why daddy got sick for long periods of time.
About a half mile before we cross the finish line my daughter tells me “Let's run for NMO. It's not about winning the race, it's about completing the race.” Yes little one. I pat her little bum and we run until we cross the finish line.
Chicago marathon can wait. This was the best run of my life.
You do not need to be strong enough for whatever life throws at you…..You need to be compassionate enough to be of service to it. Lesson learned.
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