The buzz about the New York City Marathon is starting. It reminds me of the last time I ran the marathon which was in 2009, the exact day of what would have been Taylor’s 18th birthday. It was impossible to conceive that the marathon was taking place on Taylor’s actual birthday after the promise I had made to her so many years before.
The last and only other time I ran a marathon was nine years earlier, in 2000, on a planet called Perfect that I can hardly believe I ever inhabited. I chose this particular marathon because it was small, knowing my husband and my daughters would be able to see me at various points throughout. It took place on the small island of Bermuda. I ran in honor of a dear friend of 25 years, who had battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma twice and won and whose three children were all born around the same time as mine. Our kids grew up together, from tiny tots and nursery rhymes, to screaming IPods and dozens of visits to the hospital or our house to cheer on Taylor.
At the starting line Taylor, robust and full of life, screamed, “DEAL!” as the buzzer sounded and I took off. She was nine years old, sporting bright blue sneakers and running shorts ready to take on any challenge she could find. I wondered who packed running clothes for her? Apparently Taylor had thought, hands down, that she would be able to participate in the marathon with me. She had been relentlessly asking, “Why can’t I run? Please Mommy let me run!” At nine she was a mixture of a devilish beast and a scented flower, often naughty, very alluring, difficult to refuse. She had unilaterally decided that the age requirement didn’t apply to her. Finally she gave in, but not for lack of effort. “Okay Mommy, then let’s make a deal. Can we run a marathon together when I’m eighteen?” “Sure,” I replied to her giggle. “And you’ll be…” I watched as she calculated, “forty nine years old! ” I replied, with a smile, “So, little T, you can run and I will walk.” The deal was sealed. As I soared through the first few miles I laughed out loud thinking about her determination, and dream and how fun it would be to run together. Back then; I had a future with Taylor.
I was in no shape, emotionally or physically, to train for a marathon during the year after we lost Taylor. However, I was driven to keep my promise to her. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that the event was scheduled to take place exactly on Taylor’s 18th birthday. I believe it was not a coincidence but rather another one of Taylor’s nods to me from heaven.