Running adds so much TO my life, but recently I was amazed and so proud of two of my beautiful nieces (I have so many wonderful nieces, lucky me!) because of a run they did. You see these two girls are in their mid-teenage years, they are busy and active as most teenagers are. They play sports and have jobs and of course have school. But they made time for something special this fall. They did a Heartbeat Run, a 10k race (coming in 1st and 2nd in their age groups!) They were fast and I am pretty sure they had fun doing the race together, but that wasn’t what made it a Run FOR Life. The reason it was so special was that their younger sister, and my youngest niece, has a congenital heart condition. She had two procedures in the first weeks after she was born and this fall she will have to have open heart surgery to correct a leaking valve issue. Looking at the little spitfire of a child that she is you probably wouldn’t guess in a million years that she is in need of heart surgery. She’s super active, she runs wild and free. She has better calf muscles than me She’s super independent and she’s got more life in her than most girls her age.
There’s a big age gap between the three girls, the older two have a different father and they are teens, while the youngest is still just in elementary school. They don’t even live together. But they have a wonderful bond and I can’t imagine how the little girl feels knowing her sisters worked so hard in this race to show their support for the her in anticipation of her upcoming surgery. I wasn’t organized enough to get myself into that race, or anything similar, but it’s going to be on my agenda for next year without any doubt. And maybe one for the Stollery Hospital in Edmonton too, because that amazing place is where the surgery will happen and I know it’s the kind of facility we are so lucky to have close by and available in a situation like this. They will take great care of my niece, without a doubt.
I’m grateful to running on a simple personal level. I love the way it makes me feel physically and mentally. I love the way my heart beats while I run. And yesterday, while running (a great time to think about blog posts) I thought about how we take these incredible hearts of ours for granted sometimes. When a heart isn’t working perfectly, when blood is dripping somewhere it isn’t supposed to be dripping, or an artery is too narrow somewhere along the line, and when you are a parent who has to watch your amazing little girl to make sure her fingers or toes aren’t getting blue from oxygen deprivation, or you have to wait for openings in the surgical unit so she can have the surgery that was recommended months ago, you gain deep awareness of just how critical that heart beat truly is.
Cynthia Hand, Hallowed Featured image Heart Beat © Aditya Kolli, Flickr, Creative Commons
“There’s nothing more inspiring than the complexity and beauty of the human heart.”