Saturday, April 16, 2011

I’m not a runner, never have been...

Brian, Gates and Cherie
As I sit down to write tonight, thousands of people toss and turn in otherwise comfy beds, anxiously awaiting the sound of the starting gun; the Salt Lake City Marathon starts in a few short hours.

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.

Gates:  “Dad?”
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. 

Her walking… 

And him… 



  1. Awesome!!!
    Keep running Gates--you have a countless number of people cheering for you on the sidelines.

  2. Well another beatiful blog wonderfully said. You all are amazing. Yes this life is run after run. We are here now & when you need us the most we will besure too be there, that's just how familie's work. Im so thankful for every step Gates makes. he is so lucky to have you Brian & Cherie, You know with out a doubt how much this young man love's you. Yes again the tear's roll down my check's as gates asks his dad if his mom knows how much he love's her. You two are the most wonderful parent's in the world & what a great example you are too your children & not only them your family & friend's that are cheering on the side line's of this thing called the race. We are all right behind you to push you & catch you when your tired. We love you Gates, keep up the good work buddy!!!

  3. I am amazed for what I took for granted! Hey gates I hope you know you are influencing the world one miracle at a time!!:) - Aubry Poulton

  4. I found this blog through Ciera's blog a few days ago. My heart goes out to you all, and I have been praying for you every day. Hang in there!

  5. Gates you may not remember me but we went to elementary school together. I just remember you're amazing, hilarious personality. I ran into you once in high school and remembered you're funny personality! I know we don't know each other very well due to switching schools and what not, but i want you to know you are very awesome and there are an incredible amount of people that care for you and we all know that if anyone has the strength to get better it's you. Keep up the progress, we're all thinking of you! -- Krista Mirci

  6. Wow..Words put together so well!
    I do not know Gates, nor his family. I heard of Gates through a friend, who heard from a friend. This brings back so many memories, 31 years ago. My brother the same age of Gates at the time, fell 49 1/2 feet on his head onto a cement floor. I was 17. He died, only for a few minutes. A standbyer(nurse) brought him back, for how long...we did not know.
    Only through prayer, a preistood blessing(not active in the LDS faith),doctors, nurses, family and friends did he survive.
    Yes, it was a marathon. A marathon of emotions and hard work...he won the race!

    Through the power of prayer, miracles do happen. Today, yesterday and tomorrow I will continue to pray for Gates along with all my family and friends, for they have seen his miracles.
    I pray that one day Gates little sister is telling all about the power of prayer through the miracles of Gates.

    To Gates and his family, may you know that strangers are thinking of you in thought and prayer, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

  7. Gates,
    you are such a Stud!! You continue to amaze and inspire me, I cannot put into words what it meant today to see you sitting up smiling and talking you are the strongest most determined person I have ever met.
    I Love you and Believe in you.
    Stay strong and Keep Hope Alive!

  8. What sweet, tender words that any mother would love to hear out of the mouth of her child. You must have a really special mom. :-)

    Gates, it sounds like you have an incredible support system, and incredible faith. You have already touched more lives with your example of courage and faith, than you probably know. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

    Dave and Lindsay Cutler
    (Dave is cousins with Shawn Cutler, married to Susie)