We rounded that final corner and were faced with the mother of all hills. The sunbeams peaked over the top of the horizon, breaking through the crowd of pink and white, like a large stained glass mosaic. In the distance, we could hear the drumming bass-beat. Bellowing boom-boom-boom, encouraging us to press on.
"Hey Pops, you hear that?" I asked my 11 year old nephew. He hadn't slept much the night before and because of a last minute scheduling change with his father, he found himself up at 6:00 preparing to participate in his first 5K as a part of Team Maverick. His tired eyes looked in the direction of the music, slightly squinting while he concentrated on listening while we walked. Then he heard it.
"Yes, ma'am. I hear it."
"Do you know what that is?"
"Um…no, not really. It sounds like music, maybe."
"You're right, it is. It's the music at the finish line. Remember, that big stage from the start of the race, well, there it is and we're almost done. We just need to conquer this hill, round the corner and we're done. Do you think you have enough juice in you to run the rest?"
His eyes widened, his body perked, up and he got that all too familiar look on his face. "You bet I can. Hills are for conquering!" And he took off. I beamed with pride because he echoed my battle cry for each hill we had encountered.
I pushed the stroller chasing him, while my daughter gleefully screamed with delight. "Faster Mommy, faster!" she bellowed. We passed survivors. We passed fathers, husbands, sons, sisters, and daughters who were walking in memory of a lost loved one.
Side-by-side we finished that race, his mother pridefully hugging him as tears went down her face. "Would you like to do it again, Pops?"
"Sure, especially so we can help people find a cure for cancer. Except next time, can we wear a sign on our backs for cousin Margie instead of the one we had on our sleeves? I mean, I know she's still alive, but maybe that will give other people hope."
Choking back tears, I nodded. "Yes, Pops, we certainly will."