Friday, April 22, 2011

My Tree

I watch the seasons change through my office window. One might describe the tree right outside my office window as fragile. Its branches almost look like twigs. There are some sturdier branches near the 'trunk' but there is no strong, sturdy round trunk to this tree. It's more like a collection of branches with a center stalk. Just beyond it, in the 'little field' are huge strong sturdy trees with some widow's branches but they appear so much stronger than this little tree outside my window.

I have watched this tree survive feet and feet of snow this winter and in winters past. It was buried and I thought there is no way that tree will survive this winter. But it has and now the tiny green buds begin to sprout out of its fragile fingers. While huge branches fell off of trees more formidable than my little tree, my tree, because it is so flexible, bent underneath the weight of all the storms. Here it is, ready to bloom; ready to embrace and celebrate the warm sun and arise from winter slumber. I watch my tree embrace the robin as it lands on its branches. How does it not break under the weight of the robin? My tree possesses such grace and beauty.

It seems as though it is taking forever for the leaves to burst forth. It seems as though Spring is coming so slowly this year. There have been a lot of grey, cloudy April days but that doesn't stop the growth. It is invisible to my naked eye but I can see the progress. I am relishing the anticipation and the slow and steady pace of the transition from winter to Spring and then to summer. I practice patience. I practice yoga.

No matter the weather, my tree does what it needs to do from within to thrive. My tree is a reflection of my journey. I've been buried under mounds and mounds of snowstorms in my life. There were times when I felt as though I could not possibly withstand another 'hit' but that instinct to be strong and to thrive is more powerful than any force that comes from without. Appearances are deceiving. While my tree looks fragile, it possesses a strength from within. Long roots reach deep inside the earth. It has a will to thrive - if a tree can have a will. To look at me - tremors, an awkward way of moving as I make changes in my patterns of movement, grey hair you would never guess the power house of strength, courage and grace that lies beneath. It's no accident that this tree is the tree that happens to be outside my office window. My tree and I journey on welcoming a new season of life.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On The Wings of Love

As I was reflecting on these past four months and especially Marathon Monday, this song came to mind. I have a collage of photo memories playing in my mind's eye. At the center of the collage is a beautiful 13 year old young man who is Tom's patient partner. Notice I said - is - Tom's patient partner. He is and as long as Tom has legs to run 26.2 miles and I have a heart beating to fund raise, Christos will be Tom's patient partner.

I remember the day we received the letter that Tom had a patient partner. We were excited but didn't quite know what that meant. We had know idea that Christos would take us on the wings of love to soar to heights of emotion and to ignite the love in a community. We had know idea that we would have all of Boston University's Morse Auditorium chanting Christos Christos. Earlier that week, Christos was in ICU and we all harnessed the power of prayer to help him heal from his latest infection. We had no idea that people's hearts would be touched by Christos' story and a flood of love in the form of donations totalling almost $10,000 would be posted to Tom's fund raising page. As 'big' donors handed me checks, they said, "if he does it again next year, come see me.' Boston University wants to make Music for Miracles an annual event.

We were so blessed to have a team of 5 BU photojournalism students chronicle Tom's Road to the Boston Marathon and beyond the finish line. Coordinating Marathon Monday was a logistical challenge worthy of the New England Patriots play book. How would a student get to the start? How would we have access to the finish line? What if the AT & T athlete alert didn't work as it had not worked last year? Where were the best spots to capture Tom along the course. It all worked out and I cannot wait to share the photos with you.

The most memorable moment came at mile 24 when Tom saw Christos and the entire Couturier family along with two of the students. (One of the students made it back in from the starting line.) Tom and Christos hugged and then they ran together for almost a mile of the route. Tom got the crowd chanting Christos Christos. This time no one was looking into the lens of a video camera while Christos was at Childrens Hospital. This time, Christos was there soaking up the love, healthy and overflowing with love and joy. As Tom took his time with Christos, I was nervously waiting at the finish line. I KNEW that Tom would finish. I did not know how or when especially since at mile 8 he was having a calf issue. I knew that he would make it on the wings of love and all the prayers of our friends and family.

Tom later told me he was out of gas when he got to Boston College after the Newton Hills. He went out fast - a 9:29 pace and at mile 8.3, one of the friends we made along the journey sent me a facebook message that Tom looked good but could we send some calf love his way. Uh oh I thought - what does that mean? Tom had a gastroc tear in his calf but thanks to Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy, he was fit and fine to run Boston. When I saw his pace for the half, I knew that he might have been tight from having gone out as fast as he did. He saw his physical therapist at mile 21 and when she asked him how he was feeling, he said, fantastic. Believe and your thoughts will create the fact.

We got the call from one of the students posted at Hereford and Boylston that he was on his way. Such excitement and when we spotted his Childrens Hospital singlet with his white Brooks hat and screamed Tom he looked over. It was a Kodak moment and I got to see my husband cross the finish line of the 115th Boston Marathon. As we debriefed about his run, we noticed the similarities between running a marathon and the marathon of life. You know you are going to finish; you may not know how or when but when you go on the wings of love, the journey is delicious.

Thank you to Marathon Sports for your generous donations and for the view from the finish line!

To L Street Running Club for giving me the opportunity to share my journey on the wings of love at the pre marathon meeting last week (and for the cool L Street Running Jacket)

To Kathy Cortelyou of Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy for helping Tom recover from what could have been a game changing injury and cheering him on yesterday.

And to all of the businesses, friends and family for helping us to fly on the wings of love on this amazing journey.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Two More Days

Thursday evening before Marathon Monday. Butterflies in the stomach. On our way to the L Street Running Club for the pre marathon meeting, we stopped at Marathon Sports to see our beloved running coach Domenick D'Amico. It was hard to believe that it was two years since Team McManus ran the 2009 Boston Marathon. It was hard to believe that Tom's training and fund raising is now behind us and we are looking ahead to Monday. Tom received some wonderful last minute coaching tips from Domenick and we told him we'd see him at the Expo on Saturday.

When we arrived at L Street, Mac, our President said to me, "I'm so glad you are here. I need you to open the meeting with maybe 10 or 12 minutes. If I stretch out my hands it means go longer. If I start tap dancing and making circles with my hands, it means hurry up." Last year Mac had invited me to share my Boston Marathon journey to inspire the marathoners before they took their place at the starting line. I had no idea I would be asked to speak again this year. Never one to shy away from a speaking opportunity I eagerly agreed.

The energy in the room was electric. I had nothing prepared but I am always prepared. I opened my heart and let the words flow forth. I felt so strong, stood so straight and when I speak, every ache in my body disappears. It was magic. Next up was Greg Meyer, the last American male runner to win the Boston Marathon. He was followed by Harvey Leonard, our local meteorologist and then the always entertaining Jake Kennedy of Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy. (He is pictured here singing his 'original' marathon song.)

Before we head into the Expo, pre race Team Reception for Childrens Hospital, and then the excitement of Marathon Monday.

Now that I am fueled and ready, it is time to turn the spotlight on my beautiful running and life partner Tom. This is his weekend; Monday is his day and the culmination of months of a labor of love. I have no regrets that I am not physically running by his side because I know will be running with him with every step he takes. He will be running for me, for his patient partner Christos and for Childrens Hospital. He will be running with more than his legs. He will be running from his heart.

To all of my friends who are running Boston - I wish you God speed and may all of your hopes exceed your expectations.

God bless, be well and live like you were dying'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Four More Days!

It is almost here - four more days to the high holy day in Boston - Monday April 18, 2011 - the 115th running of the Boston Marathon. Streets are closed, the MBTA runs on a holiday schedule, runners awaken from a sleepless night of slumber before sunrise, eat their pre race breakfast that they have planning for months. Pick up all of the items that were meticulously laid out the night before. Some will pray, others will meditate - whatever you call it - there are no atheists in fox holes or in marathon corrals. From across the globe runners make the holy pilgrimage to Hopkinton Massachusetts where they begin their journey of 26.2 miles to the finish line in Boston.

I am not one of the runners this year. I have a unique role to play in this high holy day. I am the marathoner's wife. We did it ladies! We made it through. We made it through another season of training and for many of us, another season of fund raising and the past few weeks of taper madness!

For the past seven months I have been doing laundry, waking up at 5 am (and then going back to sleep), driving around to cheer on my husband on long runs, fund raising, providing support to a team of 5 BU photojournalism students who have been documenting Tom's journey, keeping the bath tub clean and ready for ice baths and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

All the runners are blogging about their goals for this year. My dear friend Matt Wilson (Luau) talked about his goals in today's post and I realized that it's not just the runners who have goals. So does this marathoner's wife:

To rise and shine when the alarm goes off at 5 am
To see the tote board at $10,001 the morning of the marathon
To have everything ready and waiting for Tom to help him stay cool, calm and collected on race day
To not make a fool of myself with hysterical blubbering when I send Tom off on the bus for Hopkinton with his teammates
To find a parking space somewhere in the Back Bay (on the other side of the holy grail finish line of course)
To be able to find a bathroom when I need it throughout the day
To stay hydrated and fueled – it’s exhausting watching a marathon
To maintain phone service throughout the day to stay in touch with the students along the route and our children who will be texting and calling for updates
To remember sunblock and work on my tan if the sun is out.
To not blink at the moment when Tom crosses the finish line and miss his triumphant finish
To find him in the sea of runners
To make it from the finish line to the Westin Copley hotel – it’s easier for Tom to get from Hopkinton to Boston than to get from the finish line to anywhere else.
To remember where I parked my car and figure out how to get back to the Holiday Inn Brookline where his patient partner and family will be waiting for us to celebrate the culmination of seven months of incredible work in this labor of love as part of the Miles for Miracle Team.

To get ready to do it all over again next year! (I know there is a reason why Tom did not return the Childrens Hospital banner and is talking about when we do next year's a cappella benefit concert....)

So here's to all of you marathoner's wives and especially to those who are also mothers of young children. May your husband's have a PR and may you find your way through race day logistics with light, laughter and love!

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,

Some inspiring pre-race Botson Marathon reflections:
Run Luau Run
Really not a Runner

Help us make that tote board climb baby climb
Tom's Boston Marathon Fund Raising Page