Lean on Me

This past weekend my former work and the early intervention agency that played an important part in the adoptions and early development of both our boys, held a fundraiser walk/run. Those that know me are aware that while I keep my mind and spirit busy my physical body is often sedentary. Let’s face it – I’m a couch potato through and through. I would love to say I was much more physically active before kids but that would be a lie. But lately A and I have been making a concerted effort to jump into life with both feet. To get up off the couch and away from the computer and to finally start crossing things off our ever growing to-do lists. Part of this impetus is, I believe, because while thrust into C’s mental health crisis for several months we realized just how precious each “good” day is.

So C has been doing really well lately. He was coming home for the weekend. This walk was being held on the weekend. I felt compelled to give back to the agency that helped our family in so many ways and to do something as a family. I asked A what he thought and I was shocked when he promptly responded that he was in. I filled out the form online and clicked send. Then I felt sick to my stomach. Did I mention the walk was 5k AND I had signed all four of us up to do it together? What if C had a meltdown? What if physically I couldn’t do it. But I pushed aside the negative thoughts and pushed on. We raised $205 in pledges in just 2 days and I hauled everyone out of bed Sunday to get them there for 8:30 a.m..

It was a beautiful day, sunny but breezy and without all the humidity we have had lately. I saw so many former co-workers and friends and I loved the feeling of being connected. The first event was a 100 metre dash for the kids. The boys lead the pack then J suddenly veered off course (it was a little confusing as to where to go) and C, worried about his brother, gave up his lead to go after his brother and get him back on course. Made my heart melt.

Then it was time for the walk. There were runners doing 5k and 10k and then walkers doing 5k. There were not a lot of children doing the walk – I guess their parents realized that was a long way. But I knew I couldn’t leave C at the kids activities without us and I wanted our family to do this. Something inside me just couldn’t let it go. Like it’s some cheesy metaphor for this life we have been living – together we can accomplish anything. For some reason I really needed this and somehow A understood this. We started off at the back of the pack – right away C was complaining and saying he wasn’t going to do it (even as we walked the trail into the forest part of the conservation area). The poor safety patrol guys on bikes that were trying to stick to the back of the pack couldn’t actually ride their bikes we were going so slow. At approximately half way into the first km C balked and stopped walking. I told J and A to go on ahead and they did. There wasn’t a soul behind us other than random people walking their dogs. C stood his ground as I slowly kept walking, not giving him the audience he so wanted. I could hear some not so choice language and could only hope he would eventually move and not enter a full on rage. I tried to keep my anxiety down. So what if he threw a fit – there was no one around to get hurt, no where to run (except the finish line) and I had my Blackberry if I needed help.

Eventually, with no real explanation as to why, C began moving again and he caught up to me. Quickly he became distracted by a friends little kids who no longer wanted to ride in the stroller so they had fallen behind as a family. C began to encourage the kids and this distracted him. Then we reached the 1km marker and he was ready to bolt – to have walked so far but only be at 1km was so discouraging for him. Then somebody mentioned door prizes at the finishing line and someone else told him that he could have as much water as he wanted from the water stations and that he could just throw his cup down on the ground as he walked. So we walked and dumped water on his head, carrying as many cups as we could, laughing at being able to – for once in his life – litter. Soon it was just he and I, climbing hills slowly but surely. When he began to falter I encouraged him to lean on me – let my energy help him. He grasped my shoulder and leaned heavily, holding onto my elbow with his other hand. Suddenly around the 3km I didn’t even feel tired. I felt rejuvenated, energized. We could do this. We had lived through the past 6 months, we could do anything.

And we did, crossing the finish line in one hour and four minutes.

Next year we plan to do it in 50 minutes. Just don’t tell C yet.

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