There is an Ultra Marathon in South Africa called the Comrades Marathon. It is 90km's....... that's right 90......and not only that but it goes from the coast to the interior one year (UP) and the next year from the interior to the coast (DOWN)......
Thousands attempt this every year, from all over the world....... I have watched the start and the finish in my old hometown of Pietermaritzburg MANY times....... and never felt the urge the do it (ha ha).
One of the enduring images in my mind is of the stragglers who have run 80+ kms and are so close but their bodies are shutting down, their legs are giving out and they are staggering to make the cut off of 12 hours...... some of them lock arms with others and they help each other along (although they have to cross the line alone) and some stagger and eventually crawl across the line. Far from being weak or pitiful I found it heroic that they would use every ounce of what they had left just to finish the journey.
Iditarod Race which I witnessed the start of in Anchorage in March, there is a special prize for the last Musher and his/her team of dogs who cross the line in Nome after weeks of grueling travel across a vast and treacherous wilderness, sometimes facing death several times. The award is the Red Lantern Award and it rewards the last person for finishing. Just finishing is an admirable and fine thing.
I have long held it as a personal value that it is important to finish something you start and to finish it as well as you can, with the right amount of attention and effort. I think it says something about your personal integrity that you see something all the way through.
So tomorrow I will model that for David as he finishes well a journey that has been more difficult than it should have. I will be there at the end of his day and help him clean out his desk and say his goodbyes because its important to cross that finish line, to know this particular journey is done and then to see the good and the bad in what was experienced, take the good and use the bad and move on to new and exciting things.
I am not looking forward to it, and neither is he..... but we will do it together and then get a Starbucks and go sit by the river for a while..... and then move on.
In an amazing turns of events today my sister Jill called from Anchorage and seeing as they are already on Summer holidays, offered to have David for a couple of weeks. So in a flurry of phone calls and logistical gymnastics they very generously used their points to get him on a flight to Anchorage out of Seattle at the crack of dawn on Saturday and we will fly him home in the second week of July. A BIG blessing for David in a week of trials - my heart is grateful and many prayers answered.