I went to pick up my daughter yesterday after track practice. She is a sophomore in high school and on the JV track team. I arrived early and was sitting in the car. As I was scanning the area looking for her, I spied a lone runner off in the distance. As the runner got closer I realized that it was my Emma. The other runners were far ahead of her. As she ran by me she gave a cheerful wave and said she would be done soon.
As I watched her, it reminded me of how proud I am of her, of how her love of running is a mystery to me. She can, and has, run fast. But even her fastest leaves her last in most races and far behind her teammates in practice. And yet she runs.
This time of year she runs twice a day at school. She must rise early and be at practice by 6:30am. She is tired in the morning but gets up with a happy smile because she gets to run. Once there she runs for an hour then cleans up and goes to class. At the end of the school day she has 2 more hours of running. She is weary and yet she runs
Her teammates are kind and accepting but not inclusive. So, for most of the time Emma is on the perimeter of things, always on the outside looking in. And yet she runs.
To the outsider sometimes it appears that she is running so slow that she isn’t getting anywhere. When I mention this to her she says that she will try harder next time. When I tell her she needs to keep up with her teammates she tells me she will. And when I harp and nag about it, she will look at me and tell me that’s enough, I don’t want to talk about it. Which reminds me that she is doing her best.
On the weekends she runs in the neighborhood. To her it doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold. Her running is solitary as is much of her life. And yet she runs.
As I watch her run I often think, how many people would still run if they always came in last? How many would still love running? Who would still be on a team where you are never really accepted? And yet she runs.
To love something so fully, that what people think, doesn’t matter. To do it, with disregard for the outcome, just because you love it, that’s where true happiness comes in. That’s what Emma is teaching me.
What makes this incredible to me is that my dear sweet Emma is Autistic. Many things are difficult for her. I never thought she would ever want to run. I guess there is a freedom in the running for her. Emma once told me she loves the feeling of the wind when she runs, it makes her feel like she is flying.
I am so very glad she found something that makes her happy, something that brings her a sense of accomplishment. I hope she always has this love for running, that no matter what people say she will keep running and at the end of the day I can still say “And Yet She Runs.”