It was December 2013… in fact, just over a year ago when we all laced our shoes up to get ready for the annual Jingle Bell Run here in Tallahassee. All three of our boys were excited about running the race and Brooke (quite great with child) cheered us on from the sidelines. Brock was off and running with ahead of us and I had Jake and Cole in tow. Jake was learning about pacing himself and I kept a tight hold to Cole’s hand. Jake did a great job and ran the whole race. Cole made a valiant effort and had a good start to the race, but before we hit the first mile, Cole’s legs started to give out. I didn’t know if they were hurting or if he was just tired, so I hoisted him onto my shoulders and ran the rest of the race with him clinging to my head. But we all completed the 3K race!
Cole never complained during the race about being in any pain, however we had recently become suspect that something wasn’t right. Dismissing it as growing pains, we kept him active (so much so that we allowed him to run a race!) Little did we know that he was attempting to run that race with a debilitating and rare childhood disease that was eating away at the bone in his right hip. A little over a month later, we would receive the diagnosis of Perthes Disease that changed all of our lives. Thus began our journey towards understanding this disease and knowing there is no “cure”, trying to figure out how it could be treated.
Fast forward to the first weekend of this month, December 2014. We found ourselves again lined up at the starting line ready to race the Jingle Bell run. Brock, Brooke and Trent sat this one out, but there again was Jake to my left and this time Cole was comfortably seated in our jogging stroller. After enduring the surgery, cast, recovery and rehab that began this summer, we knew that running the race wasn’t going to happen this year. He did make some passionate pleas to run with us, but succumbed to the reality that riding and not running would be where he would race.
Needless to say, standing at that starting line reflecting on the past year was a bit emotional. I can vividly remember running the race last year through the streets of downtown Tallahassee – holding his hand and then picking him up and finishing out with him on my shoulders. And then looking down into the stroller I had to face the reality of how different the race would be this year. Now don’t get me wrong, we are absolutely amazed at the healing work that God has done in Cole’s life. The fact that he responded so well to the surgery, recovery and rehab have been miracles in our book. The fact that he is active and can run… even in his own hobbling kind of way is miraculous. We are all so grateful!
But even with all of the success and healing, it was tough for me to push Cole through our downtown streets… not physically, but emotionally. Every bit of my heart wants him to be a “normal” kid who can run races with his dad. But then I realize he is… we just have a new “normal.” And so we ran… and he rolled… and we did it together until we crossed the finish line. From one race last year to the race this year, praise God we are still running this journey together!
PS – If you’d like to catch up on our journey with Cole… simply click on the “Family Life” category.