I was already thirsty as I rolled out of bed this morning.
"EEEEEeeeeeeeeeeEEEEOOOOOOOWWWW," my hamstrings creaked.
I stretched tight muscles. Then, with a visor on my head, sunglasses perched on my nose and 24 oz. of water in hand, I stepped out into the morning air.
"Tap... tap... tap... tap..." beat the slow, steady pace of my feet on the pavement. Electric guitar. Drums. "It's been years since they told her about it... the darkness her body posessed, " she began in a low, husky voice. Tap... tap... tap... tap... my steps came more quickly as Melissa Etheridge ascended through the verse to the explosive chorus in my ears. "I run for hope, I run to feel. I run for the truth, for all that is real..." I pounded my fist in the air, indifferent to anyone around me, and belted out the anthem with her, "... I run for your mother, your sister, your wife..." Tap... tap... tap. "I run for you and me my friend... I run for life."
Another long run begun.
Fifteen minutes into the run, I noticed my labored breathing, dry mouth and the dull aches in my knees. I sipped from the water bottle, and my pace slowed. "Will it always feel like this?" I wondered as I climbed a small hill, feeling my age with every step. I emerged from the trail and crossed the street.
50 yards up the road was another trailhead. Tap... tap... tap. I ran through the dog park, up a hill, crossed a bridge, passed a tree and continued on the rocky trail. I was alone. "Lucy Liu... and my girl Drew... Cameron D and Destiny..." the independent women of Destiny's Child began. I turned off my Ipod. "Tap... tap... tap..." I heard my feet just below once again.
As I blazed along the rugged, dusty trail, I thought about my family. I began to pray.
Indignantly I interceded for my husband and children. I passionately dialogued with God as I ran, surrounded by silence except for my own voice and the steady rhythm of my steps. I barely noticed the lake I had finally reached and lapped as I beseeched, " I need to know that you are hearing me, Lord!" Now unaware of the time or my knees, I ascended a killer hill and headed back for the road. Six miles and 22 oz. of water gone. Still six miles to go.
"Father, please don't think I'm ungrateful," I paused. I'd spent 45 heated minutes imploring. I began to praise Him. "Thank you for my family. Thank you for a roof over my head, food to eat and clean water to drink. Thank you for my marriage. Thank you for my husband..." Tap... tap... tap... past the pond and the trees, back over the bridge, through the park and back to the street.
It was hot. I was parched. Just a few drops of warm water remained in my bottle, as I prepared to climb a slow steep hill. Tap..... tap..... tap...... Arduously I climbed.
I noticed a white truck perched at the top of the hill on the opposite side of the road. Its hazard lights pulsed. I wiped my brow and savored the last of my water. With my eyes focused on the road just ahead, I continued to climb. Tap......Tap.......Tap.
An arm extend from the driver's side window of that truck up ahead. "What if that was Paul?" a thought surfaced.
"No, my tail lights look different." I stuffed the thought and tightened my grip on the empty bottle in my hand. Attention diverted from the truck, I continued to climb.
I looked up again after a few moments and this time realized what was in the hand that extended from the truck at the top of the hill. It was a bottle of water. That was my truck. That was my husband in my truck with a bottle of water... for me. Thank you, Lord!!
My heart beat wildly. I threw my arms up in the air once again - this time, in utter delight. Tap... tap... tap... tap... I crossed the street, approached the truck and found my husband with the kids, still in their jammies, strapped in the back seat. Paul handed me the ice cold bottle.
"I love you," I panted.
I kissed him and kissed him and kissed him.
Cool. Clean. Crisp. I drank. That may have been the most refreshing water I've ever had.
Tap... tap... tap... tap... I pressed on.