I just got back from the most wonderful morning run at Ijams. It was amazing, really. And while I probably can’t put into words the way I felt, I have to try because this feeling isn’t common; this experience wasn’t ordinary.
With the Starry Night race on my mind daily, I went to run the 8.5k course. I have been planning on it all week because I wanted to know the exact distance and feel it out. It’s a gorgeous morning and it was very still and quiet at Ijams when I started at 8 a.m. For some reason, I was feeling emotional as I began the run. Often I run without music but today I brought headphones and Bo’s Garmin to help measure the longer distance than I’ve been running. When I have music, the distraction usually means I think less but not today.
I didn’t really feel energized or up for running today as I’m fighting a cold and feel worn out. But, there’s so little time that I get for myself that I have to seize the day. The first couple miles were easy, really, and then I hit 3 miles. I was starting to think about how tired and sluggish I felt. But, then my thoughts came back to Brody, the course, and why we are doing the race. If he does life everyday with a tumor inside his head, then I coud do the last 2 miles or so.
Along the course, I envisioned the signs of brain tumor survivors and angels that I will post on race day, the sweet faces of children I know and have met because of this race. Thoughts of children I don’t know were inspiring me too, thinking of children who are about to endure an all-day brain surgery. Or, children that are waking up from their resection in pain, unable to walk. Or, the children who will have a port put in to start their chemo treatments that may or may not work. Or, finally those children who have unfairly lost their life to brain cancer. Those are the kids that made me want to keep running this morning.
Will Skelton greenway really is a beautiful place to get moving so it was easy for me to feel inspired this morning. One song really stood out during my run, bringing both feelings of joy and sadness, a theme of today’s run….a theme of life. “If you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing’s changed at all. And, if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you’ve been here before? Now, how I’m gonna be an optimistic about this?…”
Along the trail, I was noticing beauty. God was sneaking in. I was aware that it’s a magnificent time of year where you can see the death and life of nature all at the same time. Leaves are turning and falling , while fall wild flowers are in blossom. This is also the place where there are those acres of sunflowers, which have now died off. Even the dried stalks were pretty in the fields but it wasn’t until the end of the trail where I turned around that I found a hidden surprise. There is another field of smaller, blooming, new sunflowers! If you look for beauty, you can find it. Within death, there is also life.
Because I was so pleasantly surprised, I decided to start snapping pictures with my phone while still running. The more I snapped, the more beauty I noticed. In fact, just a few snaps in, I looked down the see what the scene looked like while I was moving. Was it blurry? Was it of my shoes? No, what I saw was confirmation that God was with me on my run, pushing me on and encouraging me. Telling me that I am right where I am supposed to be.
To the naked eye, the sky was bright blue. It’s the crisp blue that we don’t often get in Tennessee, or that’s what I saw. But, when I looked back at the picture, I saw more colors. What appeared on the screen was not what I saw with my own eyes. The picture is filled with colors and the sky shows a type of colorful rainbow. Several more pictures surprised me and appeared this way with a bright glow in the center that definitely wasn’t visible to the naked eye.
That also made me realize that things can be even more beautiful than we imagine. While running, I was reflecting back at the moment that Dr. Savage finally came to tell us that Brody was awake and talking, I was overwhelmed. I was so relieved that I started crying. My mom asked me what was wrong and I’ll never forget. I told her, sobbing, I was just so grateful. Tears of joy.
When I first saw Brody in the PICU, it was so HORRIBLE and also so WONDERFUL. Just like the paths on my run today, the journey has been rocky and smooth. There have been hills and also easy, flat areas. With a brain tumor diagnosis, there is light and dark. There are bending paths that lead to surprising, pleasant places. And, I don’t think is a message just for me or just for brain tumor families. This is life.
Birth and death
Light and dark
Fear and hope
Smooth and rough
Life has seasons, and sometimes there are times we get to see how they overlap. We get to see all the colors at once. There are magnificent times when GOD comes clearly to tell us that this is the way it’s supposed to be and good is shining though, pushing us on. Beauty is everywhere. It’s in the bird house. It’s in the dried stalks. It’s in the new, bright sunflowers. It’s in the moving forward. Keep going to the end of the trail, and you’ll find beautiful surprises. Push on.
Yes, I have been here before like the song told me. I have had practice runs last year while preparing for the first Starry Night. I have been at this same emotional place too, and I’ve asked myself “how I’m gonna be optimistic about this?”. As soon as I took this last picture, a new song came on that said, “And, you see the light.” My phone suddenly went black and died. (This has never happened before). I knew I had plugged it in to charge last night so I was confused that it would die so suddenly. I tried pressing the power button to turn in back on while running my last half-mile. Nothing. Black. Dead. So, I ran the last half-mile in a strong silence. (weird, I thought.)
When I made it back to my car and got in, I again tried starting it back up. It fired back on with 55% power. Then, I put Pandora back on. This is the song that was playing. Yes, it’s a “good, good life”.
Coincidences? I think not. God is talking to us if we pay attention.