A place where moments take your breath away

The Final Stretch



     I’m not sure when the changes happened. They were subtle in the making and with each new wrinkle or extra pound I gained, somehow I forced myself not to notice. Until this morning, I removed my clothing to prepare for my shower and caught a glimpse of myself in my full-length mirror. I sobbed inwardly at my physical changes, once a vivacious girl, now a mature “older” woman.   



     At the market, a young man handed me a flyer advertising a charity marathon in our small town. I took the paper, folded it up, and stuffed it in my purse. Maybe it is time for me to do something for myself. After all, my children are adults with families of their own and, my husband’s personal hobbies demand most of his time.     

     I called a family meeting to share my enthusiasm. I did not expect their reaction.     

     “Mom, maybe you should do something more your speed, like learn to knit or take a cooking class.” My thirty-seven year old son casually mentioned.     

     Tears welled up in my eyes faster than I could will them away.  Then, like so often, I lifted my chin and smiled at my family. I set my bruised feelings aside and put on a confident front that made everyone feel at ease again.     

     In the morning, before the sun touched the horizon, my alarm clock rang. Tempted to press the snooze button and cuddle with my husband of forty years, I found a hidden inner strength to pull myself out of bed. I threw on my sweats and stepped outside on our porch, stretching my achy muscles. With a flashlight in hand, I started my slow jog through the forest path that backed up to our home. I had made it five minutes into the forest before I turned around, gasping for air on my way back. I crawled back into bed, discouraged but not defeated.     

     Each day grew easier. I no longer used my alarm clock to get up and instead let my body naturally wake me at the right time. And each day I ran further than the day before. My muscles felt stronger, my body looked sleeker, and my mind clearer. I was changing.     

     The night before the big event, I called my children to remind them to arrive early. Both my son and daughter apologized for not being able to make it. I understood. However, when my husband told me he would not attend for fear of watching me hurt myself, I felt deflated. I put on my running gear, kissed his forehead, and drove myself to the race site, hiding my disappointment.     

     The rising sun’s rays burned the early morning chill. I paid my fee, pinned my number on my shirt, and began to stretch. Although my body felt ready my spirit was broken. I’ve always supported my children and their dreams and I’ve never faltered in supporting my husband, yet today, I was alone.     

     The gunshot echoed in the sky. The agile youth took off like flying bullets while we older folks choked on their kicked up dust. I did not move. I stood there, in running pose, wondering if I could handle the rough terrain of the forest. Then, like a movie in the park, my strengths flashed before me. I survived childbirth; terrible twos, teenagers, broken hearts and watching my children leave the nest. I made a penny stretch into a dollar and catered to my husband for forty years. I rejoiced in births and faced mortality through deaths. I was ready.     

     The forest lit up beneath the sun’s gallant rays, inviting me to the challenge. I took off in flight, feeling the sun’s rays give me the strength to persevere. With each completed mile, my legs grew heavier, and my breathing labored. I refused to stop.     

     In the last turn, tears streaming down my face, I could see the finish line. I was almost there, personal triumph sweeter than my body’s pain. A man on the sidelines, jumping up and down, holding a sign with my name, distracted my focus. Through my perspiration and tear-blurred eyes, I realized it was my husband, children and grandchildren cheering for me.  I wanted to run to them but instead they ran to me, pride shinning in their loving eyes. In the final stretch, together, as a family, we crossed the finish line.   



June 6, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,


  1. April,

    I feel strange commenting on almost every single post of yours that I read, but I just can’t seem to stop myself. I have to ask, however, is it possible I have read this somewhere else? I have a strange very strong feeling of Deja vu while reading this.

    Or maybe I have been to your blog without realizing it already?

    Comment by kevunk | August 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Kevin,

      No, you have not read this anywhere else unless you are part of, or I wrote this story and entered it in a flash fiction writing contest on wow and after the contest was over I posted it on the other two writing sites for scrutiny and praise. LOL…

      If you read it somewhere, it would have to be there. Thanks for reading it…

      I feel the same way about your page… trying not to blow up your posts… but I have more to read on your page. I am trying to pace myself. haha…


      Comment by Euphoric Exhale | August 15, 2010 | Reply

      • Haha. Pace myself is a very good description for it. 🙂 The difference between you and me, though, is I am a complete novice. Whereas, your posts are very polished and well-written.

        Unfortunately, I have not written as much as I would like on my blog, however.

        Comment by kevunk | August 15, 2010

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