I am so grateful for my health. Having now suffered the untimely deaths of both my mother and my child as a result of illness, I understand more than I ever did before what a luxury good health is. And I know far too many people who have died too young due to illnesses that should be curable.
On April 29, 2012, I will compete in a triathlon with Team in Training, an endurance sports training and fundraising program for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Two things motivated me to take on this challenge. The first was a recognition that while there was nothing that I could do to save Hudson’s life, nothing I could do to prevent her death, there are thousands of parents out there every year whose children actually DO have a chance at surviving life-threatening illnesses like leukemia. Helping to raise money for LLS is one small way that I can try to help ensure that other parents never have to endure what I had to endure when Hudson died. It’s not very much—it’s very little, actually—but it’s something. And when I’m training, when it gets hard (as it does every day for someone who is as out of shape as I am), all I have to remember is that I have already survived one of the hardest things there is, and that there are so many parents out there who are enduring incredible challenges every moment as they try to help their children fight these awful diseases. And then whatever I’m doing won’t seem very hard at all.
The second thing is that Hudson’s death has made me see so many things differently. Before she died, part of me still believed that tragic things just don’t happen to me or my family, even though I’d already lost my mom. I don’t believe that anymore—if anything, part of me now sits around waiting for the other shoe to drop. I still take my health far too much for granted (see, for example, my continuing addiction to Coke), but now that it’s possible that I could be 40 before we are done having children, my youngest would be only 17 when I am 57, the age that my mother died. The idea of leaving a child behind as a teenager is harrowing, and although it may be morbid to think that way, it’s certainly a remarkable motivation to try to get and stay healthy. I grew up in a totally sedentary family, and I figured this spring might be my last chance for a long time to try to cultivate a real habit of daily exercise, a habit that I want to continue forever and eventually include my children in, too.
I feel a little strange posting my fundraising link here on the blog (see the button on the right), but I figure lots of people like to do year-end giving, and I’m happy to give you a good cause if you’re still looking for one.
And really, this triathlon endeavor is about Hudson. It’s about honoring her life by helping other parents and children facing frightening illnesses, by taking on a difficult challenge, and by trying to get healthy so that I can be around for her dad and siblings for a very long time.
I’m grateful for my health, and I’m trying not to take it for granted anymore.