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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why I Keep Running

Mandy is my baby sister. She's three years younger than me and a whirlwind of energy, charisma, and spunk. Nine times out of ten when I run into someone from my childhood, they remember Mandy more than they remember me. Whether it's an old family friend or a camp counselor, they always ask about Mandy.

Mandy doesn't think I like her very much. And maybe that I don't love her at all.  But that is not true.

I can see why she would think that. I wasn't very nice to her when we were kids. And now that we're adults, I'm not much better.

I know she won't believe this, but really, it has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me. I don't know how to talk to her. Or what to say. So what do I do? I don't say anything at all.  Or I take the chicken way out and wish her a Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Mandy is smart, creative, and beautiful. And sick. She has been for years.

I give her a really hard time about not trying hard enough to get better. I know that doesn't help. I also know it doesn't help that I'm the only one of her four sisters that's never really been there for her. It's not that I don't care. I do. A lot. But by not talking to her or thinking about her, I don't have to worry about her. Or get frustrated and sad and disappointed when she doesn't get better. Once again, that's me taking the chicken way out.

But when I'm running, I think about Mandy. Especially when I get tired and want to quit.

Thinking about Mandy keeps me from quitting. Why? Because I have no business judging her and her "lack of willpower" when I'm crapping out of a run because I'm getting a bit tired.

Today I ran a half marathon. That's 21.1 miles. For the first 20 kilometers I thought of everything from what I wanted to eat when I finished the race to how I want to get a rocking chair for my classroom. But during that final kilometer when my body and mind were ready to give up, I started to think about Mandy. Mandy is the reason I ran that last kilometer today when every cell in my body was begging me to walk. I reason with myself (and maybe a higher power) that if I can exhibit the willpower needed to keep going, than hopefully she can, too.

When I crossed the finish line, I was thinking about my sister, Mandy.

I know that just thinking about Mandy isn't going to help her or help our relationship. Which is why after months of thinking about it, I've decided to write it all down. I want her to know that without her, I wouldn't have finished half the runs I did this year...especially today's.

I know all this doesn't make up for the lack of my presence over the last 37 years. Nor can I promise that I am going to suddenly change my ways and start calling her every day. But I do hope she reads it and knows that I do think about her. And I do love her. And just like I think about her when things get tough and I want to give up, I hope that when things get really tough for her, she thinks about this post and the faith I have in her.

Mandy, you will persevere. You will get better. You will cross the finish line. And I'll be there, cheering you on.

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