The Lady in Yellow walks away from her past.
She wouldn’t tell you it’s been a bad life – certainly not. She’d tell you the good memories outnumber the bad, that there were more laughs than tears. That, in aggregate, there was more that made her happy than made her sad. She experienced loss and tragedy and anxiety and the occasional horror and still came out ahead. She’d tell you that’s been a life worth living.
She would also probably tell you, however – if pressed – that her life very often felt like it was not her own. That she ceded command of it to others years ago, in another time, in some other place. That is her nature – to put others before herself. That became her purpose.
Now she walks to change that purpose. Now she walks to take her life back.
She walks to take it back from those who didn’t believe in her. From those who judged her because she wasn’t educated enough or wasn’t interested in committing to career paths that didn’t engage her. From those who laughed at her hopes, her dreams, her starts that eventually, inevitably turned into stops. From those who never thought she was enough.
Too often, she herself was one of them.
Now she walks to prove to herself that she is indeed enough – and always has been. Now she walks because she no longer hears those who dismissed her.
She stumbled through two marriages and raising four children. She would tell you that she did the best she could, and in the same breath she’d admit that sometimes her best wasn’t good enough. People get tired; single parents get hollowed out. They don’t have the luxury of choice. They have responsibility for lives that are not their own, and far too often, that’s all there is time for.
Now she walks because she chooses to. Now she walks because this time is her time. Time she earned that will never – can never – be repaid in full. But time that will be spent in her control.
Nearly fifteen years ago that time was nearly ripped away from her before she even got the chance to arrive at it. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma took the wheel. There were tumors and operations. There was radiation and chemotherapy. There was hair loss and weakness.
There was never an ounce of surrender. She was not about to allow some disease deprive her of the chance to live the life she always deserved to. She took the wheel right back.
Now she walks for those who can’t. For those who are still fighting. For those who did not make it.
She never did quite learn how to put herself before others. Not altogether.
Last year, she began walking. Not as we all do, in the typical ambulatory act of getting from one place to another, but as an act of courage. As a way to push herself forward. As a way to show herself that she didn’t have to accept the life she’d merely been granted. As a way to propel herself into the life she always deserved to be living.
She walked. And she walked. And she walked. She never ran. This wasn’t a race. This was a meditation. This was a resolution.
This was a promise.
This Saturday, the Lady in Yellow crossed a finish line exactly 13.1 miles from the starting line she stood behind nearly four hours prior. There were friends there, and family too. They cheered her on. She acknowledged them. She waved. But she stepped through the red, white and blue gates for one person and one person only: herself. Finally.
Her favorite color is yellow. If you asked her why, she’d tell you it’s because yellow is the brightest. The one that seems to shine.
She may or may not know that it mirrors her spirit. A spirit that, even when dimmed to its lowest wattage, was always the one that still somehow shone the brightest.
Now she walks for that spirit. Now she walks towards a future that, above all else, is just for her.
I am so very proud of you, Mom.