“Run” – Nathan
Greetings again friends! While I had a post all written about expectations for this week, I just felt like this topic weighed heavier on my heart, so away we go!
I get asked a lot about why Elijah and I run together, and to be honest, I have never really worked through an answer to that question. This week’s posting will aim to change that, at least a little bit, but first I think I should give you a little background regarding me and running. Due to military service I have been running for nearly eighteen years now. That is not to say that I have enjoyed running for the past eighteen years, because honestly I have really fought the act of running for a good number of those years, as a few of my friends can probably attest. I was even guilty at poking fun at those who chose to run for fun because I never really understood how It could be easy for someone, I still don’t completely understand this because I still haven’t had an easy run myself.
My overall attitude towards running began to change just about six and a half years ago when we were faced with the sobering news that our son Elijah might not actually walk. The wheels began to turn in my head as I almost immediately made the decision that Elijah would never be left out, I just had to figure out how to make this happen.
Fast forward to about two years ago. While we were ecstatic that Elijah did learn to walk, it quickly set in that he would probably never be able to walk independently in public due to his cognitive challenges. Elijah was about seven and I felt like this was the right time to see if he would like running with me while I pushed him, an idea spurred on by the example of other amazing parents doing the same thing. It was just a secondhand infant jogger, but that really didn’t matter, the second we hit the road Elijah was in love, and something changed. It wasn’t some big flash of light or epiphany moment, but that first two miles just felt right.
Don’t get me wrong, running was, and is, still physically difficult for me, especially in this new configuration, but none of that really matters much because the second we step off, it all changes. As we move, we share a bond that words really can’t adequately describe. It is not magic and we don’t communicate back and forth much, but as we roll down the road, we are a team, and everything else just fades away. Equal parts struggle, determination, and enjoyment shared between the two of us. I push him and he pulls me, that is the deal that we will surely share for the rest of our lives. The struggles that either of us has had that day don’t matter. Elijah relies totally on me while he asks nothing of me at all, we are the perfect team. In the last year we have surely covered hundreds of miles, but we really don’t keep track. Each run is an event unto itself that reflects our lives as father and son as sometimes the terrain becomes hard and slows us down and other times it provides us a little extra push to carry on. Either way, every single mile is work. It is hard work, but it is work that I would not trade for a single thing in this world. After every run I help Elijah climb out of his chariot, and he goes on about his day while I recover and go on about mine, but for those few fleeting miles, Elijah and I will always be teammates in the purest sense of the word.