It generally holds true that we always want what we cannot have. You may have never heard of the over-priced product before you saw the ad. Now you need it. You had something in your possession for a year and never touched it. You only recognized its value after giving it away. Never before was I a runner. Never before did I want fancy, high-heeled shoes that had straps running up my leg. My strong desire of wanting what I cannot have is noticed more often now than ever before.
I walk through a mall and look starry-eyed at those pretty shoes. What I would not give to wear those out of that store. I talk to local friends, read social media posts and am awed at how many of my acquaintances are training for short runs and marathons. I am so impressed with all of you that have the motivation to get off the couch and take that run. Now that I cannot join you, I want to more than ever. Everything has changed.
My body denies me this ability. I used to have the leg coordination to walk in whatever shoes I wanted to. Before, I never cared whether or not my shoes were fashionable. My legs used to be healthy enough to run as far as my lazy motivation would encourage me to go. I used to take these gifts for granted. Now the lingering effects of a stroke have taken these gifts from me.
My body has been robbed of the ability to do these seemingly simple things. According to physicians, I will never again be able to run any extended distance. I usually make it around a block before I stumble and fall. What I would not give to get back those healthy legs. I would run ten marathons and walk home from each of them in my fancy high-heeled shoes!
Yet, in losing these abilities, I have gained a much different, but still just as harbored treasure. I no longer have the physical ability to run, but I walk and I can share my story with others. Enjoy the body you have, and utilize all the gifts that you have been given! Four years post-stroke I completed a walk of four-miles. That might not seem like very far to some, but to me it felt as if I had broken the tape ending the Boston Marathon. I crossed that finish line with my daughters by my side. We raised our arms in triumphant joy. We celebrated all day. The next day I sent out flyer declaring Four Years – Four Miles. No, I did not finish that marathon I long for, but I climbed to the top of my mountain that day. A mountain, four years prior, that seemed too steep to ever dream of conquering.
Yes, I deeply treasure the fact that I can still walk. Nevertheless, I hold tight onto the dream that one day again I may be able to run. I wake some mornings having filled the night with dreams that I am running once again. I imagine that I am running through a field of tall grass and wild flowers swaying along my swift legs. Please, do not be saddened by this repressed dream that comes to life only in my sleep. I am happy to hold on to the hope of “maybe someday”. I am also thrilled with how far I have come from roaming the hospital halls in a wheelchair.
Do not be sad, but please do one thing for me. If you are out today, run down the block. Please, just one block for me. Recognize what it feels like when the wind pushes against your face. Feel the pull in your legs. Hold onto the pressure in your chest as your body begins to work harder. I dare you to even push yourself for a solid two blocks. Let me know how it feels, good or bad. You are so lucky that your legs still work that well. Hold onto the amazing qualities that your body has. Do not take the simple things for granted. Tomorrow you may look back with longing, wishing that you could have done something that you never took time or effort to try and long for what you can suddenly no longer obtain. And, my friends preparing for their next big race – know that when you are getting really tired and ready to call it quits, I think you are amazing for pushing your abilities so far. Thank you for sharing your motivating stories with me!