It's New York City marathon weekend. The nervous energy is infectious and exhilarating. At the Expo, the Road to the Finish movie about the course keeps bringing tears to my eyes. I'm not running this year. It's my wonderful husband John who is. So I wonder why I'm so amped. I conclude that there are two things that get me - this public, community, loving, screaming, outreach - meets private, personal, commitment, pain, and joy.
I wish we could do this all the time. Scream our lungs out for each other every day. Say, "You are awesome, you are incredible, you can do this thing, I LOVE YOU." Why don't we? We are all running. Plus, it's the abandon of it, of our enthusiasm, that is beautiful to me. Like the way we talk to the very young and look right into their eyes. Our lack of embarrassment in our, "Yes you can." Anyway, that all makes me cry. And if I really knew what people go through all the time, walking around me, how would it change things? I guess we mostly do the best we can.
I've thought a lot about community this year; probably because it's a year that I experienced it catching and holding me. I got married this June, to John. Naturally we moonlighted for months to get ready. But in the days around the wedding, and the day of, it was the many hands of our loved ones, that hung the olive branches, swag, lights, collected herbs, directed show, fed and hosted family, made balloon magic, created photo history sculptures, laid tables, made runners, made programs, flowers, paid for things, played music, tended children, set my hair, took photos, brought pianos, taught dancing, set up candy, brought sandwiches, wrote words, led prayer, and blew into our wedding its first breath of life. It was these many hands that married us. This was a testament that the love at the center of a life is broader than the single human love between two people. There is a love of family, friends, and community, and of God, and it binds and surrounds and holds it all. There is a larger kindness that can catch and make a safe landing.
When someone is diagnosed with a disease, or meets accident or upheaval, part of what becomes most pronounced is this love - the intensity of our love for a person, and for our lives with them. It is a force powerful enough to move us into great action and so it moves the earth. That we love, may be one of the reasons that people are able to say things like - this thing that took so much away from me, it also gave me something back.
It is my impression from close to 11 years here, that a hope and goal of The Michael J. Fox Foundation is to do the kind of work for a cure that it is worthy in the face of such love.
There is so much scientific progress that has been accelerated forward in smart ways, and advanced into clinical trials, that right now the time is ripe for extra action, a redoubling of our community and personal involvement. We can personally volunteer for clinical trials, we can financially support research, we can become involved in our support groups, and with our peers. The science is ready, and there are extra resource opportunities poised at the ready right now too. An extra special challenge from the Brin/Wojcicki family means that all increased, new, or returning gifts after a lapse will be doubled up to $50 million dollars. There has never been a better time to dig deep and do something big, that special gift that you've been considering for when the time is right. It will have double the impact today.
Many of you have been doing this for a long time. It is mile 18 of the marathon with Parkinson's, or other complications, and you are tired. It seems that what lies ahead before relief is the Bronx, a wall at mile 20, sparse Harlem, and then 5th Avenue, where the hills feel like mountains, all before the park and the victory. And yet we have come so far. So dig deep we will, one foot in front of the other, holding on with grit. We will do it. This community does something so special that the paths are lined with people cheering, you can do this, you are amazing.
Notwithstanding all the encouraging voices, I think this is a very private experience. There is no one that can run it for another. And each person runs with what they have. What you do each day to live with Parkinson's and other concerns, as a patient or a partner, is something that you carry yourself, on your own. It is a test of human endurance. Along the course there is pain and joy. I am cheering for you. I admire the way you live present in the current mile. I am screaming out the name on your bib. Your physical and spiritual bravery are incredible. There are millions who stand watch and who see you.
The earth moves in circles and it is marathon season again, another November. As it cycles back around it brings us to a new place every time. We are farther along, and each cycle brings both progress and loss. But we are moving. I want to keep going, to make progress, to use any losses as a chance to learn more, and also to enjoy the day at hand. You help teach me how to do that.
So I am sending another letter, this time on the eve of John's marathon, to support and to cheer his run, and to cheer your run too. It has become a joyous tradition, this reaching out to my community around marathons; I didn't want to miss a chance. John will be running for Team Fox and for Parkinson's, as he did last year. But his running is in a whole new place. He began two years ago and he's becoming this glorious runner, fast and strong, beautiful and capable. I am proud of him and it's been a joy to watch his progress. This is his race entirely and he is very well prepared. As happens with running, training for him has been both spiritual and earthy, both goal directed and fun. I'm glad he's running for Team Fox, keeping a place on the team for our family. As for me, I continue to rehabilitate my slow to heal hamstring, sticking to shorter distances, confident I'll be back again, but not this year. There will be a new November and it will bring new things with it, both progress, happiness and loss. On this weekend, though, I want to be right here, enjoying this day. I will cheer as loudly as I can.
Please support John's NYC marathon and the effort to find a Parkinson's cure.
Please click on this link to be directed to our Team Fox marathon page.