The 10K race was held at a local park, the scenic course winding its way around the lake like a ribbon. Back in the early days of autism this park, for me, was both a blessing and a curse. Situated halfway between my house and a friend's, the park was the perfect meeting place for an impromptu play date. Our late afternoon get-togethers served as a respite, time out of the house, away from the endless parade of therapists. Connecting with my friend punctuated those dark days with the tiniest speck of light. As much as I treasured our time together, those play dates stung. Watching my friend's children and Annie laugh and play with one another painfully highlighted Kate's deficits, leaving me defeated, without hope.
The first half of the race was a trip down memory lane of sorts, each landmark awakening a scene from a lifetime ago. The playground where Kate spun in endless circles, alone. The swing set where she threw herself to the ground, enraged that Annie occupied the swing on the right side instead of the left. The path where she bolted away from us, screaming at the top of her lungs. The spot at the edge of the lake where we threw rocks, Kate wading in the frigid water, oblivious. And finally, the bridge Kate attempted to scale only to be pulled to safety in the nick of time.
As I crossed the bridge I picked up my pace, leaving those memories behind. I rounded the bend into an area of the park I had never seen before. My legs burned as I made my way through this uncharted territory. With no memories attached to this path, I couldn't help but feel that we are on a new course, an opportunity for new memories, for new beginnings.