letter to my daughter | april

cocoto my daughter,

this is the last month that you are seven years old.  and my goodness, you are growing in big and bold ways.  the days on the calendar pass by, and we have our routine, just the two of us.  we seamlessly fit into each other’s space, spending time reading, playing soccer, exploring the outdoors, or just sitting and talking.  so often, i am amazed by your insightful questions, your thoughtful responses, your humor, and how old you seem.  and what really blows me away is how much you have become my little partner, my friend, as we experience life together.

this month, we did all sorts of wonderful things together.  we planted trees.  we watched the boston marathon together.  we talked through new living arrangements.  we made summer plans.  we talk through your desire to be a vegetarian.  instead of planning activities and events for you, we often do it together.  you have your opinions and fears and interests.  i try my best to balance being the protective parent with allowing you the room you need to grow and develop into your unique self.  it excites me that you are finding your way, coming into your own.  it also pulls at the heartstrings a bit, the thought of you growing into a self-aware, emotional, funny, dramatic little girl.  i so want to be able to be the fuel of your fire of growth, providing you the spark that you need to really light up in the brightest ways.  and at the same time, i want to stop time.  for you to stay my baby girl forever.

and then we have nights like tonight.  our normal routine of soccer practice, dinner, and playing cards.  you push the limits to stay up a little later.  and then, as i’m tucking you into bed, i hug and kiss you good night.  i walk away, and you ask for another hug.  and i melt.  you will always be my little girl.

plantin treesplantin trees toohappy girl

the ultimate 26.2

boston strong

marathon monday started off in the usual colleen fashion.  i was on a tight timeframe, needing to get downtown early.  and i had a flat tire, of course.  i swear, i have more tire issues than the average person.  but, i kept thinking of the 36,000 runners that were going to embark on their 26.2 mile journey into boston.  the legendary marathon.  a flat tire was insignificant.  i dropped my car at the shop, and took the train down to meet my friends, who had scoped out a perfect spectating spot towards the end of the race.

it was a beautiful day in boston and the energy in the city was bright and optimistic.  after all the build up to this day, reflecting on last year’s tragic events, the focus had turned towards this year’s runners.  we watched as the wheelchair competitors zoomed past, and then the elite runners.  their athleticism is mind-boggling.  then the thousands of runners behind them started to come in droves, and i clapped and yelled, hoping to give them a little boost for the last turn onto boylston, into the final stretch of the 26.2 miles.  i stayed in the same place, for almost 8 hours, not drinking anything so i wouldn’t need to leave my spot to go to the bathroom.  i cheered on friends, strangers, and the incredible team hoyt, as they finished their final boston marathon.  my daughter cheered next to me, which felt so good and right, particularly after her recent concerns about being downtown for the race.

so many runners were crying.  tears of pain.  tears of joy.  tears of exhaustion.  tears of gratitude.  tears of almost finishing.  i know those tears so well.  which is why i looked the runners in the eye as they ran by, giving them every inch of encouragement i could.  many came over to me, to touch my hand, give me a high five, a hug, blow kisses, and make a heart with their hands as a sign of gratitude.  hundreds of runners pulled out their cell phones to take photos and videos of the crowd.  but there was one woman that will forever be in my memory.  she stared at me for a long time, tears brimming.  slowly putting one foot in front of the other.  i stared back.  i had no idea why she was running.  for a loved one, for the bombing victims, for a charity, for herself.  it didn’t matter.  i told her she was amazing, over and over.  she nodded, keeping my gaze.  i felt a very strong connection between me and this stranger.  i hoped she was listening to my words, taking them to heart, and using them to push her to the end.

so much weight was hanging on this run, in this city, on this day.  days later, i am still reeling by the power of it all.  boston strong.

boston strongboston strongboston strongboston strongboston strongboston strongboston strongboston strong “people sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. but don’t think that’s the reason most people run. most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. if you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and i believe running helps you to do that. exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life…” ~ haruki murakami