In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving
The one year anniversary of my personal 9/11 is coming soon. It has been a tough year, and only by the Grace of God have my wife and I survived the “year of firsts.” Last October, my cousin Walead ran the 2009 Chicago Marathon in my daughter’s honor. I was really humbled by his committment to run 26.2 miles for her, to raise money for research for her. My wife and I braved the cold to watch him and our neighbor’s daughter run the marathon last year.
Everyone has always told me that watching a marathon would be very cool, but – secretly – I didn’t believe them. What’s so cool about watching 40,000 people run? I thought.
I was completely wrong.
It was the most inspiring thing I have ever seen. I watched scores of people – young and old, thin and less than thin, all different walks of life – run past me, and I was utterly amazed. Everyone was running for their own purpose: some were running to raise money for a particular charity (like my cousin); others were running for a loved one (like my cousin); yet others were running for themselves. It was truly breathtaking to watch, and I wasn’t even running!
As I watched my cousin limp towards us after he finished, I fought back tears (as he did). I was so truly grateful, so truly inspired, and so truly proud of what he did for my baby. It was a moment I will not soon forget.
And I caught a bug in my sould that I just could not shake off.
Thus, with the Grace and help of the Precious Beloved Lord, I begin my training for the 2010 Chicago Marathon today. I intend to run the race in my late daughter’s honor, and I hope to raise money for the newly formed Bayan H. Hassaballa Charitable Foundation (website coming soon). What is even more exciting is that my cousin promised to run the marathon with me, and I welcome his company and support.
It is going to be a long journey, and I am a little scared about what lies ahead: the many, many miles I have to run; the early mornings during which I would rather sleep but must run; the inevitable aches and pains that come with marathon training. But, I want to do it. I want to do it for me, of course. But, I also want to do it for my daughter, who lost her ability to run so early in life because of the devastating effects of her disease, Ataxia-Telangiectasia.
And so, here I go. I have already ran my first 5.5 miles this morning, and I will track my mileage as I go along. Pray that I am able to finish the race and still be able to walk! Pray that I can run 26.2 miles and live to tell it to others. Pray that I can cross the finish line and feel my daughter’s presence there with me, cheering me along and giving me one of her smiles that would light the room and melt my heart.
I will be praying thus. Lord, please give me this accomplishment. In Your Most Holy Name I ask this of You, Amen.