For the past couple years, Elise has silently cheered on her older brother and sister when they've performed at a piano recital, played in a soccer, basketball, or baseball game. She has been to every one of their games or performances. Elise patiently sits through them (most of the time) and we call her their biggest fan. She has been to many games and will continue throughout the years to support and cheer them on. We've been a little disheartened knowing Elise won't get that opportunity. The chance to play on a team or perform in something where we can cheer for her instead.
Ez and I signed up in Jaunary to run a half marathon with Elise. Our date nights turned into long runs together, and our family time on Saturday was spent running on the greenbelt while our kids rode bikes along side us. As our race got closer I decided to design shirts for the 3 of us to wear during our race. It didn't take us long to realize that we wanted one for each of our other kids as well. We were all in this together.
When our shirts arrived I realized this was the answer! Elise does have a team and she does have something she can participate in where the rest of us can cheer for her. Races!
She can be involved in races. This would be her thing. Her something that would be what she did, that would make her feel happy and special. Her thing where she could hear people cheering her name and feel the energy of it all. So Ez and I signed up to run a half marathon and push her. We would do it for her. This would be our thing. Our family would be Elises' team. Our shirts would be our jerseys. It will now be her siblings turn to watch this time as we become her legs.
The race was amazing! I couldn't help but smile or get a little emotional at times. I caught myself frequently smiling throughout the run. It was so much fun, it really was! Everything about it was wonderful. The scenery, the sun coming up, running alongside the river. It was so peaceful and serene.
At times throughout the run we would notice Elise smiling and sometimes giggling. My sister who ran the race with us and Ez and I all would look at Elise then at each other and couldn't help but smile and laugh too. It was an incredible feeling to be doing something for her that made her so happy. She loves the wind in her face. She loves its sensation, she always has. Running gives her that and that's why we run. To make her happy and calm. She is so peacful sitting there and at times falls asleep.
Halfway through the race it began to get more difficult. It was then that I noticed my brother-in-law's van stop a little ways in front of us and out poked all my other kids' heads and they cheered and screamed us on. Another time I saw them standing on the side, waiting to give us high fives. They did this multiple times throughout the race and I got emotional seeing them there, wearing their shirts, cheering Elise on. It was so motivating. I realized that's what we do. We keep going. We keep moving forward together. We cheer each other on especially during the hard times. And that's how it's always going to be. Life with a special needs child is not easy and at times is getting more difficult. However we have each other. We have our team to keep our heads up and to keep moving forward.
My sister commented on how it was almost a spiritual experience running along side her. I never thought running and feeling the spirit could happen at the same time! It just doesn't seem natural! But we all felt it and could feel Elise's strong spirit during that time. It's amazing how different and special something ordinary becomes when you do it mostly for someone else. It's powerful. All our hours of running week after week, month after month was focused on Elise and everything we've been through with her and our continual fight with her each day on gaining and regaining lost skills. The Fight Song came on my race playlist a couple times throughout the race. The lyrics echo the fight Elise gives each day:
And all those things I didn't say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song
My power's turned on
Starting right now I'll be strong.
I'll play my fight song
And I don't really care if nobody else believes
'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me.
I LOVE being a mom to my 5 kids; one with special needs. There is no greater joy than being a parent! I love each one individually but this blog will mostly focus on our daughter with special needs and our journey with her. Thanks for reading!