|Brian, Gates and Cherie|
Clichés are funny things. The actual word “Cliché” has a negative connotation and even definition, however when appropriately used and suitably timed they can have certain impacts, altering a stubborn paradigm. Tonight a cliché hit me, like a sucker punch, unexpected and attention grabbing:
“Gates’ recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.”
I’m not a runner, never have been. My spouse, on the other hand, has just picked up the sport and I’ve learned a thing or two (bear with me, Pavement Pounders, as I know I still have a lot to learn).
As Gates toed the line of this race to recovery, his “pace” was fast and progressed rapidly; 10 days in and he’s ahead of the pack. Today was a little like his first feelings of exhaustion; he’s put forth so much, so soon, and this morning he struggled to breathe again and doctors found one of his lungs had partially collapsed.
Gratefully, like any marathon, he was lucky enough to have “aid stations” where friends visited, brought well wishes and love; helping him gather strength. This is the first I’ve really mentioned it but he has excellent nurses, therapist, doctors and counselors as well, bringing him everything he needs physically, to keep his focus on the goal: recovery. Thanks to his spirit and healthy body, he has still not needed the tracheotomy.
|Gates the Night of the Accident|
Eventually, unfortunately, one day Gates is going to hit “a wall.” There will be a time (or times) when he wants to give up, when he just wants to quit. It is then, he’ll need us even more than now.
I love the story, and thought of Gates when I reread it, about an unknown Tanzanian runner by the name of John Stephen Akhwari. In 1968, John staggered into the Olympic stadium; one hour after the winner had crossed the finish line. He completed the race bleeding, with a dislocated knee and thunderous applause. When asked why he didn’t quit after his fall and knowing he couldn’t win, he said, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”
“…Our knowing of Jesus’ perfect empathy for us individually will help us greatly to endure our pains of various kinds.” Elder Neal A Maxwell said, “’Christ shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
‘And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities’” (Alma 7:11–12).
The “Runner’s High” is ultimately the goal and driving force pushing those who run to run, and run again. Just as I know Gates will have to drive through the tough times, I KNOW he will take joy in a high, inexpressible by words.
For me, my high today was hearing of a conversation Gates had with his Dad, Brian.
Brian: “Yea, Gates.”
Gates: “Does Mom know I love her?
Brian: “Of course she does…”
Gates: “No, Dad, does Mom know how much I love her?”
Brian: “Gates, Mom knows how much you love her.”
Gates: “I don’t think Mom knows, really, how much I love her.”
Such sweet words, from a boy who can only whisper.
“Gates’ recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.” Was said to me by the wife (Renee) of a man (Dale), I only just met tonight. She knows; she’s been through it.
Nearly 13 years ago, her husband had an accident, breaking his neck and leaving him paralyzed from the chin down. It must have been devastating, back then, when doctors explained he would never walk again.
I shook both their hands after a wonderful discussion and talking to them about Gates. Her words reverberated in my head… as I watch the two of them leave.