We had another couple of inches of snow last night and one could think oh my goodness when will this winter ever end? How will the snow ever melt in time for the Boston Marathon? I choose to sit here and feel the sun warming my back through the window knowing and trusting that winter can never last. Whether it be the season winter on the calendar or the winter of a challenge in our lives, the darkness never lasts and darkness never wins. Even in the midst of the coldest, darkest days there is a glow and a warmth that can never die.
When you see the icicles and blocks of ice that encase houses and the snow that buries bushes you wonder how will anything bloom again? The snowdrop is a flower that blooms in late winter. Before the grass returns, while there is still snow on the ground, these beautiful, fragile flowers remind us of resiliency and what is possible even in the midst of challenging conditions.
In February of 2007, I sat at my dining room table facing a grim future. I had been diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. I sat in a leg brace, was told to adapt my Cape home or find a ranch and prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I was at risk for aspiration pneumonia because of difficulty swallowing and was told that if I had any hope of stabilizing my functioning where I was then that I had to quit my award winning VA social work career.
In the midst of the dark night of my mind, body and soul and in the middle of February, I discovered the gift of poetry in my soul that opened the portal to healing unleashing the power of my imagination to see beyond appearances while accepting everything as it was in that moment. The cadence of Dr. Seuss that my physical therapist, Miss Holly read to me before every painful physical therapy session and then had me recite back to her blossomed and now I was holding the pen that became my divining rod for healing.
The first poem I wrote - "Running the Race" foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run only as I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility, and never having a run a day in my life, I had no idea that I would one day cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.
Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
Everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.
Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone
and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist,
curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.
I always wore those 'special' shoes
the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse
with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.
Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else
and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.
Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
Suffered in silence, isolated from friends-
trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team
and they were on my side.
Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.
Seeing 7 foot snow piles and ice still on the ground, as you face challenges wondering when will it end and how will I ever make it from here to there look for the snowdrop.
"Journey Well" and all of my inspirational books are available on Amazon.
"Journey Well" is a book about resilience, strength, courage and how we are able to journey well no matter what conditions life hands to us. I profile the people who are Boston Stronger and share how 4/15/13 was a wake up call to me to return to my healing path from contracting paralytic polio at age 5 and 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent.
50% of all book proceeds are donated to AccesSportAmerica where people of all ages and abilities achieve higher function and fitness through high challenge sports and training.