This past weekend, I ran my first half marathon. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place. It was a challenge for which I had trained and prepared. I was excited, I was nervous, and I did it. I didn't come in first (I came in 13 minutes before the first full marathoner finished.) There wasn't a whole lot of noise or acknowledgement as I crossed the finish line. (I was about the 900th person to do so that day. I think the crowd was kind of used to it.) But I ran. I ran 13.1 miles up some intense hills (yes, there was some hill-walking involved). I ran without injury or stomach irritation (something I was very concerned about) and I enjoyed it. The one thing that bothered me, something I hadn't even really considered, was the moments after the race when there was no one there to celebrate with.
I entered the race with a friend- she was behind me in the pack. Another good friend came with us, to act as taxi-driver/emergency ambulance pick up. We were in the same city, within a 1 1/2 mile radius of one another. But there was no one there waiting to give me a hug. There was no familiar face smiling at me, no one who knew me to pat me on the back and say "Good job."
I didn't know I would need that recognition, that validation so badly. I didn't even realize until I spoke to my mother on the phone about 20 minutes after finishing. As soon as I heard her voice, tears started streaming down my cheeks. I had just achieved a major accomplishment- something on my life list of things to do, and I wanted someone who loved me to share it with me. It wasn't a vanity thing, I suddenly realized how important it is to me to share the important moments with people you love. It's an amazing thing to have someone who knows you and what you've gone through stand beside you as you accept the award, make the move, cross the finish line. Can you imagine giving birth alone? Nine months of excitement, planning, talking. All the worrying, speculating, anticipation, and then there is no one there to experience the power of bringing another life into the world?
I can't say the moment lost its meaning or its power. I was there. I did it. I felt the sense of accomplishment. I also felt like something was missing...something like a hug. There is something to be said for having someone by your side for the big moments. Someone to hold your hand, see your tears, mirror your smile. And really, it isn't even just the big stuff. Yes, the weddings, the funerals, Christmases, birthdays... sometimes the little stuff really is the big stuff. Sitting outside at dusk on the first warm night of spring. Taking a new car for its first road trip. An impromptu weekend with friends you haven't seen in a while. A crazy rainstorm that lasts for days. Running a local road race. We all have little moments. That's the stuff that life is made of. Everyone's moments are different, so while they may not be significant enough to write down on the calendar, they are important enough to remember who you shared them with.
When we look at our friends, our family, the people we love, I think that's what counts. Knowing there are people who love you, who you love, who care, and will share in those moments with you. They will bear witness to the moments- big and small- that make up your life. Hopefully they will appreciate the importance of those moments at the time.