Joshua had the greatest freckle in the whole world. I told him so everytime my right hand held his left, on which the greatest freckle resided just below the knuckle of his thumb. By three years old, Joshua didn’t care too much to hold his mom’s hand, so I learned quickly to count it a blessing when he did allow me to hold it. And even though he was too independent to like the attachment of the hands, he never seemed to tire of my telling him how great that freckle was.
I thought of this while I was running the other day, trying to prepare for the 5K coming up. Dawn Weeks and some others kindly humored this idea of mine that folks might enjoy touring the streets of Floyd on foot. A few friends are coming in from out of town for the occasion. And on Labor Day Saturday, we will challenge our bodies to run this race.
It is pretty strange that the idea of a race would have even occurred to me because I am not known as being a runner. Just ask my husband—I’d rather do just about any form of exercise besides running. But the truth is that the idea for this run was born back in Raleigh when we first took Joshua to Duke. At that time, we were under the impression that we would be staying with Travis’ aunt Brenda during treatments. This was one of the reasons why we chose Duke over St. Jude's-- it seemed as if it might allow us to maintain even a small amount of normalcy. Completely unaware of what was about to hit us, we were trying to stay sane and in shape by taking daily walks or runs. I had just decided to run instead of walk simply because I could. It was hard to see Joshua unable to sit up independently due to the drastic surgery he had undergone. He was usually so active and had even recently ditched rides in the wagon to jog with his daddy when we went for family walks. Then suddenly, after a whirlwind 24 hours of taking in the fact that he had a brain tumor and deciding on major, life altering surgery, my perfect little child was an invalid.
This still does not set well with me. At the time, my reaction was that I should be more grateful for what my body could do and try to make up for what his body could not. I remember the day that we first toured the Preston Tisch Brain Tumor Center, which happens to be this little hole in the wall of a basement on Duke’s medical campus. Hole though it was, they were very thorough there and I left with a plethora of brochures and reading material. One of the items I brought home was a pamphlet for the Angels Among Us 5K Walk-Run which occurs every year in April. I asked Joshua that night if he wanted mommy to run in that for him and he said yes. You can bet that I was thinking of the event on the day it took place, and though some friends of mine actually did run in it in Joshua’s memory, I did not have the heart to return to Duke and still don’t. My hat’s off to Brian and Desirae for their involvement with the hospital (I tell them that frequently), but I do not yet have the strength to return there.
I do, however, strongly support the work that they do there. When high profile names such as Kennedys trust an establishment for their expertise in brain tumors, I can again be reassured that we chose as wisely as we could for Joshua. Still, I hurt for those like us who will watch their loved ones suffer because of the many complications that come with having a brain tumor and the lack of knowledge we have about them. Many in our community know this feeling, as Joshua and Chance are just two of several who have suffered from brain tumors from Floyd over the past couple of years. Don't forget that this research benefits adults as well as children.
So I hope I have much good company in the race on Labor Day weekend. I may not medal… You will likely see me walking a hill or two… But I hope that the owner of the greatest freckle in the world can smile down on me that day and know that I am keeping a promise I made to him. It might not be pretty, but I will fight the good fight, finish the race and as always, keep the faith.