My friend Kim was completely on course, no pun intended, to run the Chicago Marathon in October. Homegirl's goal - like many runners - was to qualify for The Holy Grail - BOSTON. She may have done it too. She ran a 1:45 half marathon last month, well within range to keep improving to make her goal of 3:40 seven months later in Chicago. Running the Boston Marathon has been a dream of hers ever since her 5k running partner, Julie, died from cancer (at age 35!) in 2008. Together they'd dreamed of qualifying for Boston, and Kim has held true to her promise that she'd be running it for both of them one day.
Never a runner before, I've seen Kim clutch onto this dream with dogged fixation, and I've envied it. She has told me she's felt Julie with her on runs, she still talks to her along the lonely miles, and feels like her running partner is right along with her. I love the determination Kim has maintained to keep running for both of them, and how she keeps Julie's spirit alive. I'd like to think a promise I made to my friend on her deathbed would merit the same resolve and commitment from me. I would honor my promise. I've thought a lot about this lately - what friendship is, what it means to be a friend, the kind of friend I would like to be (and try to be), how I can be a better friend, etc...............
A couple weeks ago Kim tore her achilles tendon and just had surgery. With the time in the boot (roughly 6 weeks) and then the time needed for rehab, she has come to the realization that, this year, Boston qualification is not to be. Understandably, Kim is broken hearted. And I am broken hearted for her.
I could say what I would do in her shoes (or boot), but in this specific case, how do I really know? I have had other dreams deferred in my life and I cannot say I always handle disappointment with grace and gratitude. I eventually come around, but it's usually messy until I get there. I guess we can just try to look for the lesson and maybe that is one small step in the direction of maturity.
It's so hard when we say yes to something and God continues to say no. We might wonder if it's a matter of timing, effort, perseverance, or who knows what.
For people of passion, it is the hardest thing to love yet have to hold lightly.
I was reading through a journal of mine I had written when I was rehabbing after my broken back (and broken spirit) in 2007. Something struck me in my writings ... I had written a quote: "We are defeated only when we have given up..."
How awesome is the idea that we are never defeated if we never stop trying. We may stop and start again. We may change our goal midway and soldier on. We may retire and later re-enter the ring. We may fail miserably and muster up the courage for a do-over. We may let one dream go in order to make room for another, better dream. Or we may realize that the dream we've held close all along matters now more than ever–and we approach it with renewed vigor. We may take time to heal and then, one day - we laugh again, trust again, love again, run again, start again.
If defeat is for quitters, then the victory remains simply in the try. How glorious. Truly.