Here’s a thing you should know about me: I am a quick crier, but only about certain things. I don’t tend to cry very much out of frustration or anger. I don’t cry very much from sadness (unless the sadness stems from certain movies. I’m looking at you, Steel Magnolias).
I do cry very quickly when I feel like people are being too nice to me or when I am happy or when I look at my husband or my son and am filled with complete joy and amazement that they are a part of my life. I cry when I watch sporting events, if the underdog wins. I cry every single time I watch the Ironman on TV. I cry when I feel lucky.
I can be so sappy and so sentimental that it should not have been a surprise to me that I found myself with tears running down my cheeks, trying not to be noticed, over my lunch hour today.
See, the Special Olympics track and field meet is being held on campus today. It is a beautiful day, so I strolled down to the track to watch for a little bit and to enjoy the sunshine. I sat on a hill, just outside of the stadium, there in time to watch the 800 being run. There were two competitors, both adult or late teen males. One was stretching and walking purposefully at the starting line, clearly warming up. The other was hugging a volunteer and waving to his proud mama (blinking back tears now just thinking about his mama. Gah. Too much love right there).
The volunteers help both men get set on the line. They both wait, intent. The gun goes off and they start. Guy number 1 takes off, hauling ass. He is fast, he has really good form. If you didn’t know it was the Special Olympics, you wouldn’t guess it from this guy.
Guy #2 sets off, moving at more of a shuffle than a run. His head hangs to the side a bit. He is pigeon toed. His shorts seem to be riding up as he run/shuffles. As he rounds the bend, he looks to the side. He catches his mom’s eye. She jumps up and down, hollering “Go! go!” . He grins widely at her and shuffles a little faster.
Guy #1 wins, of course, lapping guy #2 in the process. He crosses the finish line and high fives the volunteers. He takes a swig of his water bottle. He waits.
Guy #2 continues his way around the track, smiling and waving at his mom again on the second lap. As he comes down the finishing straightaway the crowd in the bleachers starts cheering loudly. He crosses the finish lines, arms in the air, triumphant. He and guy #1 hug, patting each other energetically on the back.
And I? I sit on the hill, crying at their joy. Crying because I know how lucky I am. Crying because the underdog gets a chance to win, every time, at the Special Olympics. Crying at the parents who cheer their sons and daughters on, these parents filled with such visible love and pride for their children.
I’m going to run today. Not because I have to but because I get to, because I am lucky and healthy and loved.