This morning L participated in the “Read, Right, & Run” marathon. Today’s race was just a 1.2-mile course — still a fairly formidable challenge for a kindergartener! — but it was the culmination of a months-long commitment to read 26 books, do 26 good deeds, and run a cumulative 26 miles.

It took us more than three months to complete the entire marathon. We read and read and read. We picked up litter at the park, put quarters in all the carts at ALDI, made cards for family members, delivered treats to neighbors, shared snacks and toys with G when she was sad. And L spent his weekend afternoons and even his recesses at school running, bit by bit, completing an entire marathon one half-lap at a time.

L learned — and sometimes struggled with — new and difficult concepts like pacing yourself, patience, and keeping going even when things are hard. Lord knows he’s done all these things before, without realizing it, but this was the first time he’d faced some of these concepts head-on, by choice, across weeks and months, and he rose to the challenge admirably.

On the way out, Z and I wanted to grab a coffee, so we took a different route out of the park — one that took us right by the hospital. As we paused at a stoplight, I looked up to see this shiny new hospital tower rising above us, and it took my breath away.

771DE070-734E-4930-88BD-8222D1A9972F.jpegYou see, for more than three years, L and Z and I watched this tower being built from the windows of the neighboring children’s hospital. We were admitted so many times I’ve lost count, and for a truck-loving toddler, there was no better entertainment during those endless inpatient hours than watching the crane swing slowly but surely around, watching the construction workers do their well-choreographed dance, watching a giant made of concrete and steel materialize before our eyes.

We watched that tower rise, bit by bit, layer by layer. At times it was a marker of my frustration; they had made so much progress, and here we were, back again, making so little.

They weren’t quite finished with it last time we were inpatient — now over two years ago, thanks to the incredible surgeons and GI team who work in that very building. And now, today, the tower stands complete, and my son has run a marathon.

“Mama,” I heard a little voice say from the back seat. “Mama! I wouldn’t have been able to do the marathon if I was in the hospital, would I?”

No, buddy, no you wouldn’t; but you wouldn’t have been able to do it without that hospital, either.

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