A rite of Spring no matter the weather - it's the weekend of the Boston Marathon! Four years ago there was such excitement in our lives. Saturday - Race Expo. Sunday - rest a lot - and pre race pasta dinner with our Race for Rehab teammates. I remember Ernst Van Dyk's speech to us, "A life doesn't end with a disability. It's just a new beginning."
Here he is after winning the 113th Boston Marathon in 2009:
I was incredibly blessed to attend a luncheon yesterday and hear Ernst speak at the Institute for Human Centered Design. I had the opportunity to reconnect with a couple of my Spaulding friends and shared my story with different people who attended the luncheon. It was magic!
I thought the finish line of the Boston Marathon was the end of my healing journey. It was only another beginning.
How many miles I traveled from the office of Dr. Darren Rosenberg at the Spaulding Rehab Hospital Outpatient Clinic in Framingham's Post Polio Clinic in October of 2006, to declaring with my personal trainer in February of 2008 that I was going to run the Boston Marathon and raise money for Spaulding. I felt it to the depths of my soul. Bear in mind please that I had never run in my life. I was still in my black polio shoes that could support my short leg brace.
But I knew - somehow I just knew this was right for me. I had written the poem "Running the Race" in February of 2007. As Carl Jung says, "the unconscious prepares the way for the future."
Sometimes no words are needed -- We were blessed to have a Boston University COM doctoral student, Johannes Hirn chronicle our last training run (seen in the first photo at Marathon Sports Brookline) and capture us during the final miles of our run.
We'll be heading out to the Race Expo later today. Sunday evening I will practice yoga and meditation. Monday morning we head to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to share the day with Spaulding Rehab cheering on the runners and having a spectacular view of Boylston Street. I remember my beautiful teammates and members of the Development Office telling me that they were banging on the window
cheering us onto the finish line 7 hours and 49 minutes after we began in Hopkinton.
It will be amazing to watch from the other side hoping that Ernst makes this his 10th Boston win and cheering on a former teammate of ours. We will be celebrating with other members of the '09 Race for Rehab team who will be in the suite at the Mandarin. It will be a wonderful reunion and a reminder to me of where my journey began and how Spaulding Rehab helped me to Find My Strength! Not only did I have a medal on my chest, but we raised $10,535 for Spaulding Rehab Hospital.
There is something really special for me this year about Boston Marathon Weekend. Perhaps it's because I am writing my memoir and taking a look back at this amazing journey. Perhaps it's because I feel so well, awake and alive that I can enjoy every moment. No matter the reason, I am blessed and grateful for every step of this amazing healing odyssey and delighted to have you along for the ride.
Running the Race - Feb, 2007 from Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey Volume III:Celebration of Life to be released later this year. Volumes I and II are now available on Amazon.
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
Everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.
Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist, curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.
I always wore those 'special' shoes the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.
Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.
Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
Suffered in silence, isolated from friends-trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team and they were on my side.
Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.
From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,
MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY AND FREE!