I cried a lot last Sunday.
Before letting that opening sentence be your compass on whether or not to read further, please read a bit more.
The tears quite honestly caught me off guard. Traveling from Oakdale to Modesto in morning darkness. As a song played in my car the tears fell; they were tears of gratitude.
Sunday morning I was traveling to run the half marathon distance in the 10th Annual Modesto Marathon. A race I first ran in 2012. I was new to running then and was inspired to try by my friend Jason who was battling colon cancer at the time. He passed before I ran that race. His life, his passing, his journey had a profound effect on mine.
At that point in my life, I was less than a year in to the end of a 20-year marriage. His family’s journey, struggle and faith at that time, quickly became mine. How could I possibly feel sorry for myself as I watched a friend fight to live … for his family.
Sunday morning as I traveled and heard the voice of Lauren Daigle, belting the lyrics of “Look Up Child” emotion, followed by reflection, overcame me.
Much of my life’s journey the past decade has been shared in these pages, as well as the 209 Magazine. The gratitude I felt Sunday morning I quickly recognized was for a number of things.
Life deals us blows, some harder than others. Some leave deep scars. But yet it’s all in how you see the glass, right?
A few years back a friend shared she felt I was the epitome of a glass half full person. Hearing this caused me to chuckle. At the time, my children were young, my financial status bleak and my future well ... I truly couldn’t think that far.
My reply to my friend at the time was, “Girl, I’m just happy to have a glass.”
That’s never changed.
The glass is indeed the gift. Regardless of its content, which in life can and does vary from day to day, we are fortunate to have a glass.
I thought about that Sunday. As I began running the race course I’ve pounded close to a half dozen times since 2012, tears again.
I thought of the spectators watching, the thoughts they might have had on my emotion. Perhaps thinking I was completing a goal I had long trained for, oddly that assumption I realized would not be too far off.
The race for me was old hat. Not to be smug, it was indeed still a challenge and my body felt it at the finish, but it was far from a first, nor will it be a last. It’s my outlet, my hobby, my “fun” if you will.
What I realized however both during the race, as well as over brunch with a friend following the race is that those tears came from recognition of living through the training of life.
Stick with me here, there is a point.
Life is indeed what you make it. Some days, that seems like total nonsense. You know the days, your bank account falls short, your car breaks down or your child gets sick and you have to work – that’s all tough stuff. Yet we continue on … or ... you don’t. The power is not just in the choice but how you see your glass in that moment and in the days, weeks and months which follow.
Sunday marked a day, where I was able to stand at the peak of a mountain, look at the path which led me there and feel gratitude. Life has taught me, there will be more valleys and slush ponds ahead, yet it is with the grace and faith I muster which will help determine how I reach the next peak or if I do at all. Call me crazy, but that’s pretty powerful stuff.
My hope for the reader who made it past that first bleak sentence is simple; be grateful for your glass. If it becomes filled with toxins, find a way to filter it out. When you find it’s holding lemonade, savor every sip. Most importantly don’t waste your days focusing on the full versus empty and the why of it all. Find your way to gratitude/acknowledgement for its fragile nature and your ability to keep it whole.
The beauty after all lies in the knowing that this life we’ve been given is the greatest of all. Thank you God.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.