I got up early this Thanksgiving for my first race with the kids – a 5k “turkey trot” through a Eucalyptus grove just north of where I live.
But before I had barely wiped the sleep from my eyes, I popped some bread in the toaster and found a lovely little surprise waiting for me on Facebook.
My friends Kathy and Doug - whom I met when I first became a mother and whom I haven’t seen since – posted a video of themselves playing “You Are My Sunshine” on the ukulele and guitar and dedicated it to me, saying You’re our sunshine, Lara! You inspire us with you courage, insight and humor. Keep writing … and shining!
I was giddy with excitement! As soon as the toast popped up, I slathered on some peanut butter and sat down to watch it. It was so lovely, I burst into tears and smiled all the way through it. I played it over and over and over again! My daughter watched it with me and hugged me. My little guy watched it over and over again with me and said, “Mom, that’s just super nice of them! You’re my sunshine, too!”
My little guy’s 8th birthday is tomorrow. The anniversary of his birth makes me think about how far we’ve come, my boy and I. This was the child whose mom, when he was four, didn’t know what he liked to eat. Who was terrified after his father moved out, left alone with his fragmented, skittish mother.
Last night I let him sleep in my bed. As he lay next to me he looked at me so lovingly. ”When I look in your eyes,” he said. “I feel safe.”
He was nervous about the race today. ”What if I get lost?” he asked.
“Would you like to hold my hand?” I replied.
It turned out he would.
We ran 3.1 miles through the Eucalyptus trees, hand in sweaty hand.
For a while my guy added leaps every few feet. (Sudden, unexpected leaps are fun!)
And from time to time he’d look at me, smile sweetly, and softly sing: You are my sunshine. My only sunshine. You make me hap-py when skies are grey. You’ll never know, Dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.
In the last mile, my boy was pooping out. I told my little guy, “Come on – you got this!” And I heard him say to himself, “I can do it.”
“You can do it,” I said.
“We can do it,” he said.
“You can do it! I can do it! We can do it!” we both said over and over again as, hand in hand, we passed runners heading toward the finish line.
When the race was over, my little boy said, “Mom, this is the best day of my life! I’m just really proud of myself! That was hard! And I’m REALLY proud of you! That was just 3 miles and you ran 13.1 miles! I can’t believe you did that! I want to run a half marathon with you! And a whole marathon! And an ultramarathon! And an Ironman!”
For you, little boy, I would do all of that – and more.
Happy Birthday, my little snuggle bun. You are my sunshine, and I love you beyond words.