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Pause for Thought

April 24, 2010

Almost 12 months ago when my friend, the lovely L, persuaded me that it’d be a great idea to run the London Marathon, I never thought it would really happen. I’m always full of grand ideas that never come to fruition, but lo and behold the big day is almost here and I’m more nervous about getting there than getting round – how silly is that? You see, I’m the sort of person who gets into a tizz about stupid things but can always be relied upon to remain calm in a major catastrophe: chopped your arm off with the potato peeler? No problems, I’ll get a tea towel. Lassie’s drowning in the lake? I’ll just get my dinghy. Don’t know what to have for dinner? OMG! Call the emergency services!

So as the big day dawns, I find myself worrying about silly matters: are my arms too fat for this vest? I’ve got a huge spot on my nose, everyone will see. I can’t go out like this, I look like The Fly in these sunglasses – at least I don’t have to be sick on my food before I eat it – it’s bad enough having to eat my own body weight in pasta!

When I started thinking about the London Marathon and doing constructive things to raise money for charity, I wanted to help people and do something useful. I thought about my dad a lot when I started my journey: he died from lung cancer many years ago and I still miss him. I thought about how I wanted to do something in his memory so I could make him proud. I thought about all he’d gone through and how he fought so bravely. What I remember most is how terribly sad it would make him when he saw children enduring what he was going through. It used to break his heart. So when I decided that I’d run for Children with Leukaemia, I had my dad in mind the whole time. And so, I began my journey; little did I realise where it would take me.

I’d volunteered for leukaemia charities before; I’d never personally been affected by the illness, I kind of got roped into it by my mum but found that I actually enjoyed volunteering. I met some brave, inspiring individuals – parents, children, nurses, doctors, all of whom had a story to tell. So when I began to fundraise for Children with Leukaemia, I thought I had a connection that had become deeply important to me. I hoped that by raising money, I’d be helping my charity make a difference.

Then, one day, I received a donation from a lady I’d never met before; in her message to me she said that she’d lost her son, Thomas, to leukaemia many years previously. Children with Leukaemia had helped her family when they needed it most and she wanted to give something back. We began to exchange e-mails and I felt moved by this lady’s story; I could tell that she still missed her son terribly. I’m not a parent and I can’t begin to imagine the pain one suffers at the loss of a child. However, I felt I really wanted to do something in return to thank this kind stranger for supporting me and I asked if she would allow me to run in her son’s memory. I didn’t expect her to say yes but she did. I must say, it overwhelmed me a little, I was humbled and honoured in equal measure that this kind lady would allow me, a stranger, to run for her son.

I always felt what I was doing had purpose but to do this has given what I’ll be doing tomorrow real meaning. Thomas’s mum said to me today that when you spend time with terminally ill children, their joy and tenacity show you what real strength is. So these trivial matters I am worrying about, pale into insignificance. When I hit the “wall” that’s what I’ll think of, the strength and tenacity of those children. 26.2 miles is nothing by comparison. Tomorrow, I’ll be running for Thomas and for everyone who’s shared their story of a loved one they’ve lost to leukaemia. I’ll be running for my dad too because I know he’d approve.

So as the marathon draws near, it’s not really the end of my journey, but the start of it. Stick with me, I’m not finished!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2010 8:23 pm

    With so much self-regarding, false sincerity swilling about on the interweb, it is a very real pleasure to read your blog posts – this is as genuine and moving a piece of writing as I’ve come across in a while. I look forward to your continuing adventures in running!

    • April 24, 2010 8:28 pm

      Crikey! You say such kind things. Thank you my lovely. It’s hard not to be too gushy about such an emotive subject. I think I shall blart like a baby when I cross that finish line and I’m not one to cry easily! Thank you for your support. It is wonderful.

  2. Owen permalink
    April 24, 2010 10:13 pm

    Hello Louise, I’m Mary’s brother Owen – unfortunately I’m not going to be at the roadside like other years but will be cheering you on morally. Best of luck and stay cool!

    • April 27, 2010 6:16 pm

      Hello Owen, it’s so nice of you to send me a message – Mary explained the situation so I hope all is well. Perhaps I’ll see you next year instead 🙂 – Take care!

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