On Saturday morning, my husband woke at 4:30, drove two and a half hours, and ran his first half marathon on a course with an ominous tagline: Conquer the Hill. I was at home doing normal Saturday morning activities: sleeping until seven, making waffles, schlepping the kids to garage sales and soccer practice, and otherwise not taxing my muscles or cardiovascular system.
All morning long, my thoughts turned toward him. He'll be warming up right now. He'll be starting the race in just a few minutes. He's probably close to mile ten at this point. How is he doing?
I wiped up syrup, ushered kids in and out of the minivan, found an adorable end table to refinish for just five dollars, and drove back home to retrieve the shin guards that we had forgotten while the inner dialogue continued. He is running. All this time! How is he still running?
I've done three half marathons myself, but I was nervous for him in the same way that I'm nervous when I know a friend is in labor. (And I've done three of those, too.) I pray. I wonder how they're holding up, wonder how things are progressing, wonder if they're in pain while I'm reading a magazine or working on the computer or preparing a salad to go with dinner.
And then, inevitably, my mind sort of explodes as I think about how this typical, innocuous day of mine will become a day that someone will remember always, for better or for worse. I reflect that at this moment, someone is being born and someone is dying. Somewhere, a relationship is starting and somewhere a marriage is ending. Somewhere, someone is suffering and someone is rejoicing.
After our final garage sale stop, I buckled the seat belt around my four-year-old. My phone rang and I cradled it between my ear and shoulder. It was my husband. He had finished the race (with an amazing time, nonetheless).
The girls cheered when I told them that Daddy was on the line, and the phone slipped from its perch on my shoulder onto the van floor, and I asked for details about pacing and the course, and I reminded him to stretch before driving home so his legs wouldn't cramp, and I imagined him standing, sweaty and spent and handsome, with his bib number pinned onto his shirt, race chip on his shoe, and his commemorative race tee slung over his shoulder as he talked to me -- and, suddenly, I wanted to cry.
I couldn't put it into words. I was delighted and proud and relieved.
He did it. He conquered the hill.