Monday, 6 January 2014

13 miles ... and counting

Twelve months ago, on our 17th wedding anniversary, Diane didn't feel like celebrating. She was still feeling under the weather with this bug she had got over Christmas.
Neither of us had any idea what was really going on inside her body. It never entered our heads that her cancer had returned. After all it was only a few weeks ago that she had come out of the Royal Bolton Hospital's Breast Unit with a broad grin, positively skipping back to the car with the news that she was off the tablets and could look forward to the rest of her life.
We could start making plans again, start building our lives back up now the clouds had parted and fresh rays of light had peeked through. All those years of darkness, now a hint of sunshine. It was the happiest I had seen her for more than six years.
Now all she had to do was shake off this bug and we could get on with our plans.
One of those plans was for her to finally take me to Rotterdam to see where she spent her childhood. Where she lived, went to school, played, laughed and cried. She would show me where she fell heavily from her bike and broke her teeth. She used to tell me how she would jump between the huge barges that were strapped together at the side of the Maas, the giant river which slices through the centre of Rotterdam.
Maybe some of her old school friends were still living in the city, perhaps one of her old teachers was still alive. It would be exciting for her to see how much it had changed. I was excited that I was to see it for the first time.
But all our plans were to be futile.
It wasn't a bug after all. Soon she would be gone.
Which is why I spent our 18th wedding anniversary running my first half marathon around the country lanes of Lancashire. More than 13 miles, the furthest, by some distance, I had yet attempted.
12 months ago, as I sat with Diane and hoped she'd soon be feeling better, I had no desire to run 13 yards, let alone 13 miles. But that was all to change.
I need to do this to help others going through the same pain. For those who hope they can too start to make plans again like we did. And for those, like us, who will see their dreams shattered.
So, here I am a year on. Less than 100 days away from running my first marathon. In Rotterdam. Where Diane lived, went to school, laughed, cried and, yes, lost those teeth.
I will at last see the city that holds so many memories for her. It will soon hold some cherished, precious ones of my own.
I did the half marathon yesterday. Eventually, after nearly two hours and 40 minutes, I passed that 13-mile marker and turned the last corner to the finishing line. I know now that having done that, I'm ready to realise this dream. To run in Rotterdam with Diane.
At last.

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