Seeing as how my family does not live anywhere near us, it is pretty rare that I am able to show Emma the true lengths to which a families love will go. Yes, we do have my husbands family here in town...and yes they are there for us...but everyone leads their own lives and like the majority of people...they are busy. This morning Emma and I got to feel that love first hand though. It was incredible. It was a cold, windy, and snowy morning here and we had the privilege to watch my niece participate in an 8k race for diabetes. We stood at the finish line in the cold staring down the path...waiting for her to appear. I have to admit that I was freezing...my teeth were chattering...I couldn't feel my toes...and yet, I couldn't bring myself to complain. I thought about my niece...about all of the other participants...running...for the past hour to two hours...in the cold, the wind, the snow. I thought about them and I was in awe. First of all, I would never be able to run that distance without passing out I am quite sure. I was amazed and proud...honoured and overwhelmed at their spirits. As each person crossed that finish line, I saw the strength that radiated from their eyes...the determination with each foot fall. I admire every last one of them. I saw some people crossing with smiles on their faces...breezing through...obviously veteran runners. I saw some people with sweat pouring off of them, coughing uncontrollably, shuffling along as best they could...still very much showing every last ounce of determination themselves. I saw people with white hair, people my own age, teenagers like my niece, and I even saw one little girl about Emma's age. I stood there and wondered what all of their stories were. Where they diabetic themselves? Were they parents of diabetics? Siblings? Friends? Family members? Were they out there to honour the memory of a loved one lost to this disease? Or were they just out there simply to do what they love...to raise money for a good cause? I saw that little girl running and it brought tears to my eyes. I saw her Dad running along side her...cheering her on...clapping and shouting her name...giving her that extra boost to make it those last few strides. My heart ached and I wanted to run out to her and scoop her up and hug her...thank her...tell her that I think she is incredible.
After a few minutes of witnessing all of these amazing people crossing the finish line...completing the race...reaching their goal, I saw my niece making her way up the path. It took every ounce of my strength to not burst into tears. She crossed the line...and was met by her parents, grandma, friend, Emma, and I. We all gave her hugs and it was incredible. I stood there looking at her...remembering her from when I met her and she was only 8 years old. Emma will be 8 years old on Tuesday. It was sort of surreal for me.
I am truly humbled and honoured to be her aunt. I hope she knows how much she means to me and how much I love her. I hope she knows that I think she is one of the most kind hearted people I know. She knows what it means to be a family. She gets it.
As we drove home from the race today, Emma said to me from the back seat, "Mommy? Jamie is awesome for running for me....she's my hero!"
I think that about sums it up.