Yesterday ended my 7th year with Just ‘Cause. I swear you could split me down the middle and let my halves walk around of two complete minds. Explaining why this would be my last year sounded so shallow and stupid, especially when the listener is battling cancer at this very minute or has just buried their mother just ten days before. I sounded weak and pathetic, even to my own ears and I had practiced my spiel for weeks. I thought I had it cold.
As the miles wore on that first day and the listeners grew I found myself wondering if I could stay connected in small ways. I wanted in. I was going back on me & myself and my resolve to quit. Moi wanted another year. It’s the same every year. The high of being loved, being supported, being called “sister” for three days; this surrounding of care connects me in a way that doesn’t happen in my other life.
On the second day I walked with a runner. A real Boston-qualifying marathoner. It was an honor to talk running with her. Her conversation sustained me, how-so I can’t really explain. She was selfless and gracious. Never once did she initiate a conversation with her own accomplishments. She talked running as if it were a religion and anything about herself was between the dots. It was up to me to connect them. To learn she had done Boston (and never realize she when she was actually on Heartbreak Hill) I had to ask. To discover she had qualified for Boston after her very first marathon I had to probe. “I” was not in her vocabulary unless I urged her to tell me more. I admired her lack of ego. I called her Hero. At the after-party she assured me if I ever wanted to run Boston, she could get me in. No charity case, no qualifying. I am still agog.
On the third day I walked with my dear heart, the Historian. We always walk after breakfast and I am breaking a seven year tradition by not coming back to her. I’m arguing with emotions just thinking about letting her go.
The Bookworm & I ended the last eight of sixty miles with torrential downpours. Soaked to the bone but satiated with love we joined hands and hearts. As thunder rolled across the sky we powered through. We had been told the group would not walk in thunder, so to “be prepared” to be swept. The idea of finishing my last year in a car, my final miles powered by wheels under me instead of my own two legs, was too much to bear. The Bookworm and I surged forward faster. In the end, we were not swept. I finished my 420th mile on my terms.
I will be forever grateful for the beautiful women of Just ‘Cause. Whether I walked with her or not, each and every woman showed me an inner beauty than cannot compare. From the woman allergic to soy, apples, watermelon, strawberries, red onion, oranges, and peanut butter to the woman battling her 5th cancer. Herculean efforts by heavenly graces. Angels on earth.
As for me, I am over and out. For now.