Clapping for Continuing

Denise

Clapping for Continuing

Denise
road-908176_640Last Friday, I took a break. With my parents settled--my mom in the nursing home, my dad in assisted living--I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to spend a night out of town.

I wanted to see Jamie (@jvnewell) at the wake for his wife, Val. The wake took place in Ottawa, Ill., about 80 miles from where I live. But, in Friday afternoon traffic, that 80 miles can take a few hours. I also wanted to see my nephews and niece compete in a cross country race on Saturday morning in Peoria.

Because Ottawa is kinda on the way to Peoria, I decided to do both--drive to Ottawa to see Jamie and then continue to Peoria on Friday night, stay in a hotel and attend the cross country meet the next morning.

I was so glad I attended Val's wake. I just loved the photos of Val that Jamie shared, especially those of their wedding day. Val was a beautiful bride and you could tell how excited and thrilled they felt on their wedding day. I also met Jamie's mom and saw that Jamie, despite his heartache, was managing okay.

The weather for the cross country meet on Saturday was perfect--cool but not cold, cloudy with bursts of sunshine. The invitational took place in a beautiful park not far from the Illinois River. The time spent with the energy of teenagers while surrounded by nature makes a cross-country event both invigorating and relaxing.

The invitational grouped high school teams among their divisions: 1A for the smaller schools, 2A for the larger schools, 3A for the largest schools. 1A ran first, with the girls kicking off the invitational followed by the boys. My niece ran in the girls 2A race; my nephews, the boys 2A race. (If you'd like, you can watch an interview with my nephew, Jack, after he finished his race. You'll see his brother about four seconds into the video patting him on the back.) My niece and nephews all were very happy with how they competed. After her race, my niece began to cry as soon as she saw my sister. Oh, my, gosh, my stomach dropped when I saw her tears. "I ran under 19:10," she sobbed. "I'm so happy!" Ah, the tears from running a personal best.

Because the meet was an invitational, runners at all skill levels competed which made it so much fun. I marveled at the kids who ran fast and found inspiration in the ones who ran slow but kept running until they finished. One young man, in particular, impressed me. He finished last--and last by quite a bit--but he finished running. He ran the three miles without stopping. As he ran toward the finish line, the crowd that lined the straight-away clapped their appreciation for his efforts.

During caregiving, it can sometimes feel so futile. We try so hard and yet declines continue. At Saturday's race, I was reminded of the importance of our witnesses (those who watch and cheer for us, like all of you do here) and of our participation. We keep going, no matter how difficult, and that's our win. And, because we continue, we inspire others to do the same.