When we pulled into the parking lot, we noted quite the cheering crowd. The sight of all of those iheartcolum/norahthebrave shirts stole my breath for a moment. We didn't realize that they were cheering for us. Jeff's mom, my friend Michelle, and Ryan Pack greeted us at the car to offer help with out plethora of gear.
When we walked up, we were given a standing ovation that included clapping, whistling, and loud cheers. There was no mistaking the reason for this applause. They were shouting Norah's name. The crowd was dotted with familiar faces, but I assuredly missed a few friends who later told me that they were there.
After more than a few tears (thanks Andrea B for the heaving sobs), Ryan sounded the horn for the race to begin. We walked straight for Colum's headstone, where the finish line was. Before we knew it, the fastest of the runners were crossing the finish line.
We cheered for finishers, tried to keep Norah cool, greeted and introduced people, took photos, and had a wonderful time. I had a quiet moment with Norah and Colum's headstone. I felt the gravity of Norah's survival. I was thankful for the miracle of her life. The reality is that she easily could have been in the ground, too. I especially remembered Dec 25, 2011, when Colum died and Norah began to code. Was he there helping her? I like to think so.
I'd rather not know the Packs under these circumstances. I want Colum to be alive and full of mischief. I would rather he not be Norah's guardian angel. But "wants" rarely matter. This is the way things are. My heart hurts for this family. Though our situations are not the same, we both understand hurt, heartache, tears, and the need to be optimistic for your other child, regardless of how much you want to give up. We understand ridiculous comments from well-intentioned people. We understand not wanting to face the world, let alone the day.
So we sang Happy Birthday to this beautiful boy. I feel so honored to simply have been part of the day. I look forward to celebrating his birthday every year at this annual 5k. And to those of you that walked, ran, registered, attended, volunteered, cheered, and/or donated: I thank you deeply. I especially thank the Packs! I wish there was a way I could fully describe how much you've all helped our family, without sounding like I'm whining or complaining about financial destitution. I will mention though that after we had Norah home for under a week, our electric bill was already $200... Hopefully that can give you an idea of what you've done to help us. You've helped Norah breathe. You've helped us all breathe. Thank you.