I’ve caught the bug.
I would like to say it’s the running bug, but I caught that many moons ago and it shows no sign of easing.
It’s a sickness bug – and I hope it eases very quickly. I’m not a good patient, especially in this hot weather, when lying in bed is to be endured rather than enjoyed.
It makes you realise when you are incapacitated by illness how lucky we are, and how much we often take for granted the basic abilities we have: standing upright, walking, eating, control over our own digestive systems; never mind the more challenging things like sport, work, and a social life.
I’m a regular reader of the award winning Times columnist Melanie Reid, who was paralysed three years ago falling from a horse. Her powerful words speak volumes, as, each week, she struggles with a body that no longer responds as it should. Yet, still she fights on to do as much as she can.
A cousin of mine was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease about the same time. His life is now totally confined to a special wheelchair, communicating by eye movement and computer, liquid food and 24/7 care. Still, with the help of his incredible family, he has always fought on to do as much as he can.
This week Melanie talks with passion about people wasting their bodies, not making full use of them. “If you don’t want to live – I mean live, really live, appreciate every damn moment of being free and able – give me your body,” she writes.
Sometimes people tell me I’m an inspiration to them because of my marathon running. It’s nice to be thought of in that way, but really there’s no comparison with someone like Melanie or my cousin. For them and others who’s bodies aren’t “free and able”, every day can be its own marathon, each action a challenge. Their defiance of their bodies limitations is what’s truly inspiring.
It’s been an emotionally charged week with our friend’s funeral taking place. It was as perfect a send off as it could possibly be. The church filled to overflowing, beautiful touching tributes from her friends, family and most poignantly children she worked with. Her family so composed, yet so deep in grief. The weather, clear blue skies and hot sunshine. She was a sunshine girl, who brought its rays into the lives of all she met – so like her to bring it, as we all gathered to say farewell.
I spent that morning doing my long run for the week. It was a struggle to get going, my head filled with thoughts of the event ahead. But then the rhythm of the running took over, and nature invaded my consciousness – dragonflies green and blue darting alongside the river path, large brown trout cruising gently below the surface, playing pooh sticks under the bridge. Reaching the coast and seeing the sea flat calm and clear blue, blending seamlessly on the horizon with the sky above, red sandstone cliffs stretching away in the foreground and seagulls circling overhead, oblivious to anything but their own place in the world.
A time to appreciate every damn moment of being free and able – and of being alive.
How lucky are we who can do that?