“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” This is a quote from Richard who said that to me one day many years ago. At the time, we were leaving the office of one of the many doctors we had taken Emma to. Those were the days when I still fully expected someone to produce the “secret thing” that would cure her. Like some sort of closed, clandestine group, that if I just knew the secret password, Emma would be allowed to walk past the door labeled “autistic” and enter the one labeled “Neuro-typical” for better or worse.
I had a brief moment during my adolescence when I ran the mile, while my friends were running the 50 or 100 yard dash or sitting on the sidelines, munching on potato chips, I was doggedly doing laps around the quarter mile track at our local school. I would set a pace for myself, not so fast that I was immediately out of breath, but not too slow that I was able to carry on a conversation. And I’d stick to it. Determinedly, often with my head down, listening to my breath, in, out, in, out. Some days every step was a slog, as though I were wearing cement filled sneakers, my breath labored, every muscle ached, I would think about stopping before I’d hit the mile mark, but other days were bliss. As a teenager I ran longer distances. I kept running for years just to experience those days when it all felt easy and right.
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: Emma’s Hope Book