April 21, 2011

A walk in the park

The room was black as night. I awoke alarmed, not by the clock but, because of the chill in the air. Shivering violently I rushed to grab my favorite robe glancing at the time on my way back to bed. It was almost 8:00 a.m. much to my surprise.

The day was here. An adventure about to begin. Pulling back the shade I was greeted by gray skies and billowy clouds. They seemed to threaten to spill torrential rains at any moment. "Go ahead" I said in a way that suggested the clouds might actually hear me. The wind seemed to speak back in a blustery voice. Its chilling reply unnerved me.

What a change in weather we had experienced over night. A sudden drop like this has the ability to stop me dead in my tracks. But there was no way that I would cave to the pain. I'd been waiting for a very long time for this day.

After reading the forecast I got dressed, grabbed my iPod, and layered a jacket over the top of my clothes. I grabbed an umbrella big enough for two wishing, all the while, for a "girlie" baseball cap. On a day like this it might come in handy.

My stomach churned as we headed out the door. What was I thinking? Will I be able to do this? How far can I go? Will it rain? What will the course be like? What if I fall? Am I crazy?

The brisk breeze snapped me out of the stormy thought cycle. After all what was the big deal? This was going to be quite an adventure for me but when I really thought about it, it was literally a "walk in the park" for most people.

But then again, I'm not most people.

That is what made this day so important to me. After 14 years in a cast I was finally out. To celebrate I'd decided to do something I'd only dreamed about. Participate in the MS Walk 2011. Not just because I have friends with MS but because I also have the disease. For weeks I had been excited but the threatening skies and dreary day were dampening my enthusiasm. They were also trying to rob me of my courage.

I prayed quietly to the Lord.

As we drove to Maury County Regional Park I debated about whether I should pursue the one mile or three mile course. I'm typically an all or nothing kind of person. I'd waited almost a decade and a half to do something like this. But the raindrops brought deliberation. Crutches and wet surfaces don't mix. I've already experienced this disastrous combination more times than I care to recall.

"Please Lord they're feeding hundreds of families at the church today. I really want to give MS a kick in the teeth. Stop the rain. Dry things up. Help."

We pulled into the park. There were cars all over the place. Someone was talking on a megaphone. I wasn't concerned that I might be missing something important. But I did pick up my pace because I was in a hurry to see where the starting line began. Crutching over to the pavilion I check in as quickly as possible unfocused on what was going on. My eyes darted back and forth looking for the starting place and the finish line. I found them to be one and the same.

It had been over a decade since we'd visited this park. A beautiful landscape tucked behind a high school it has it's share of small hills and valleys. For most they might go unnoticed but for me they are obvious. On crutches climbing a small hill is like scaling a mountain. The track they had laid out meant three laps around the mountain. It might as well have been Mt. Everest minus the snow.

I stood looking down at my hands. Before leaving I'd taken the time to write the names of those who had supported me with donations. It was my way of taking them with me. They and others were lifting up prayers for me. I'd need them to overcome the obstacles on this course--not to mention the bone chilling air.

We finally got started. There seemed to be a lot of young people walking. I stayed near the front of the pack and off to the side of the track. The rain had stopped which meant the pavement was drying but the grass remained wet. One wrong move could spell disaster for me. I moved along carefully at a quick pace.

As we turned a corner and headed up a hill my left shoe, which fits poorly on my deformed foot, began to twist around. If I slowed down there was a possibility that I wouldn't have the momentum to make it to the top. If I kept going at that pace I might loss my shoe. I found myself mentally telling the shoe good-bye as I increased my speed. There was no way that I was quitting. Shoe or no shoe, I was going forward.

It was a long uphill battle. While struggling I reminded myself that what goes up must come down. For most people that would be a welcome relief. For a person on crutches going downhill is even more dangerous. I prepared myself to throw the metal sticks out further in front of me at the first sensation of decline. It came more quickly then I hoped but I was ready.

Rounding the bend as part of a fairly large group my husband continued to walk behind me to insure my safety. About a dozen people were in front of me. I could see them receiving medals as they crossed the finish line. I remarked to my husband that they most have been the one milers. He asked how I was doing.

The very same question was on my mind. How was I doing? Was a jamming up things or keeping up with other people. He said that I had completed the first mile in about ten minutes. Elation mixed with determination provided enough steam to keep going. Three times across the finish line added up to three miles. For most a walk in the park but for me a marathon. A marathon with a mission to stomp out MS.

I've received a few diplomas over the years. Somewhere there is a trophy collecting dust. In my office an award hangs on the wall. All of these represent significant milestones in my life. Yet I'm not sure any compare with the small medal which I received for completing this course. It might as well have been made out of gold. I cherish it that much.

It was a dream come true.

A walk in the park.

An adventure.

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jasonS said...

Melinda, what a powerful story. Thankful for your adventure and everything it will mean to others. God bless you!

melindalancaster said...

Jason, thanks for stopping by. Your encouragement & support are a blessing.

Hazel Moon said...

Through the support of your family and friends, you made that adventure come true. May God lift you up on the wings of angels as you sore over more adventures to come!

melindalancaster said...

Hi Hazel:
Thanks for stopping by to read about my adventure. I appreciate it. God is Good. He has blessed me with a wonderful circle of love. May He bless you, also.

Emily Duffey said...

Melinda... I'm very proud of you, and very thankful to the Lord that you were able to participate in this experience.  Maybe some day we can walk in one of these together.  :) God bless you!!

melindalancaster said...

This was definitely special for me. I'm so grateful that God allowed me to both start and finish.
I'm proud of you, too, Emily. You've done a lot of walking lately.
It would be great to walk together. If not here, we'll walk the streets of heaven...with no pain. Yay!

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