My friend and teammate, Crystal, along with her husband Tom, picked me up in the wee hours of the morning and we drove to Toronto. We were able to see the sun rise on our way, and somehow it helped calm me.
|Crystal, Louise and I|
4013 people in total. $9.4 million dollars. It's astonishing, really.
We had a quick bite to eat, then sought out the facilities.... in all of those people, each of us were dumbfounded that we didn't have to wait for a bathroom.... that is, until we came out of our stalls and noticed the line on the opposite side of where we had first approached. The line for the loo was about 30 people long - funny though, nobody once even gave it a second thought that 3 people had just butted.
We found a spot atop one of the grandstands and were in awe again at the sea of people. The opening was very touching. There was a morning t.v. host who started us off with stretches and warm-ups; brief speeches were made; a singer crooned a song.... then we were on our way at about 8:00am. There was no turning back.
The whole first day was filled with cheering volunteers, police directing traffic, everyday citizens honking horns, businesses offering goodies.... and lunch and the pit stops! We were spared no luxury. We ate well, we were refreshed, we were given provisions to make our walk more bearable....
|A delicious and nutritious lunch... yum!|
Louise was the first from our team to cross the day one finish.... I came in half hour after her at 4:30pm.... and Crystal came in 45 minutes after me.... The feeling was so gratifying. I was tired. I was euphoric. I was saddened; but, at the same time, so full of hope.
I tried very hard to focus on what I was doing, where I was going, and enjoying the scenery. Thoughts of Becky entered my head a few times, and I used them to push me even harder.
At days end, we enjoyed our dinner, some laughter.... much needed showers. By 9:00pm we were tucked neatly into our sleeping bags and resting up for....
|My home away from home...|
Day Two - 25km:
2:55am: Note to self - bring air mattress next time.... oh, my aching body!
4:55am, need a bathroom.... BAD! Can't sleep.... I walk the camp after washing up.... find tea, omelets, yogurt and BACON! I ate with the road crew.... what a great bunch of people. I went back to the tents, by that time, Crystal and Louise were up. We got ourselves ready.... then, I received a text message: "You up?" It was Kim. "Where's your tent?"
I emerged from the tent, expecting to just see Kim, as she had said she might greet me that morning. I didn't expect to see her little family, and Becky's as well. A nice surprise.... and at that moment of seeing the faces of Becky's beautiful children and her husband, I felt she was with me.
|A beautiful pink sky to greet us that morning|
We headed out on the road again a little after 7:00am.... and again were greeted with the same enthusiasm as the day before. The only difference for me was that my energy and drive felt like they had increased 10-fold.
I was on a mission, the same mission I was on for the whole year leading up to this event. It wasn't until the last hour of my journey, about 7km out from the finish, I started thinking of her. This whole year had been working toward making her proud, and hopeful, and just doing something.... anything to make me feel like I could help. Keeping it together was difficult... there were tears, there were happy thoughts of her smile, her embrace, her calling me a goof for countless things I had said or done.
She was with me, I knew it, I felt her.... of course, seeing her family that morning had given me perspective into why I was there. I needed to see them that day.
At the finish, I heard my family cheering, honking horns, clapping.... I saw them and I was so proud of what I had accomplished. As I crossed, I was met with the open arms of my husband, then my children, my mother and father-in-law, my sister and nieces.... and when the wave of family hugs parted, I saw Peter. Becky's Dad. And that was so very special.... she was there - in him. We embraced, we cried inconsolably.... and he said to me, "Becky would be so proud of you." I can't tell you what it meant to hear those words from Peter.... Crossing the finish line is truly a moment I will never ever forget.
|Louise and I just after we crossed the finish|
The closing ceremonies were very heartfelt and left me, and I'm sure others, with a feeling of hope.
"Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible," anonymous
Was it worth it? Yes.
Will I do it again? ABSOLUTELY, just try and stop me.
Have a great night all, thanks for joining me on this journey of hope ;)