Yesterday, Zoe RAN for the first time. And it was real, I could feel her determination, ..as she kept pumping her tired legs, to go a little faster ,and climb the slight hill.
I could see the happiness spill from her smile , as she passed others on the running path . I felt the thrill of it, as she finally crossed the finish line, elated and spent.
Standing behind her, I saw what she saw- the incredible imagery of the wii game graphics on the big screen-- the dream-like sequence of images, as my little girl stood in her walker, pumping her legs with a rhythm her legs were never meant to find. As she imagined it was her hair flying in the wind and that she really was that girl on the screen- running in the sun, legs galloping with ease over the grassy hills.
Further back, sat her big sister- enabling this imagery, holding the wii remote under a pillow- moving it up and down to match the movement of Zoe’s overworked legs.
I hated running when I was a kid. And sometimes when I really think about it, I feel bad about all the things my body could do- that I took for granted .I was awkward, and being clumsy and tall, could never run it in a fluid way.
The older I became though, the faster I moved. As a young adult, I worked multiple jobs, always hustling..stocking shelves, waiting tables. Later , I was forever working in the publishing environment, where life was about deadlines. I learned to think fast,-new ideas, new products , new pitches. I learned to talk fast- phone calls, advertisers , and meetings. To walk fast- up and down the office stairs, through airports and days spent on trade show floors. A work friend once complained I was hard to keep up with..that my determination, long legs and fast speed combined -made it seem like I was running.. all the time. I was speeding through life and not living it.
Zoe was my second baby, and I thought by then, I had slowed down. In Zoe’s early years, there was little sleep and a lot of sickness. A life derailed slows you down more. When Zoe was almost 3 she got her first walker. She was 5, the first time she told me she didn’t like to be rushed. She is ten now- and although the rest of the world is busy, and rushed - it is simply not fair to “ hurry” my girl . So I encourage others to wait for her words, to allow her extra time, to praise her independent yet slower movements, in and out of her wheelchair and life’s other transitions. And I practice patience, resisting the temptation to choose her words , allowing her to ask for help before I jump in to move her along.
And as I stood watching Zoe run, I was guilty of wishing it was her on that screen - and for a moment I was tempted to give into the loss of all she cannot do. Instead, Zoe’s joy in the moment captured me, and I realized that her presence in my life had given me clarity and with it the greatest gift- the ability to stop running and start living.