Ripple effects can happen with sound waves, water waves, wind. We all cause ripples in others lives, most of which we may never know or see.
I want to introduce someone who made a ripple in my life, my interior life, the small part of me with confidence to think I can do anything, even if I may rarely live this way. Here is why. This year I received a holiday card from Rebecca with a photo of her, her husband, and her 2 dogs that thanked me for being an inspiration to her and encouraging her she could do it when we met in 2006 during training to walk the full Seattle marathon with Team In Training (see link on the blog roll to the right).
Upon reading this comment, I thought, ?WHAT? because I felt exactly the same about her. She is the most inspirational person I have ever met. In fact, I had no idea I had been at all inspiring to her. For both of us, this was our first attempt at a marathon. When I first met Rebecca on the trails, I saw someone who had a tottering gait and yet so friendly I did not realize at first she was completely deaf. She was able to communicate her situation to me with a little writing pad and gestures as we walked, and I learned she had a disease that caused benign brain tumors to develop that caused her to lose her hearing, balance, and requires surgeries to remove them.
For that 2006 marathon, we trained over a 6-month period, and here is what happened: Rebecca, who had trouble balancing and unable to hear, completed her marathon as the fastest walker of anyone in our team. I sprained my ankle a week before the event and was unable to participate. I still have yet to complete a full sponsored marathon, though I created my own in 2010 by walking the distance in a single stretch.
My disappointment in not being able to participate in the marathon was countered by my belief that everything happens for a reason. Only a few days after the marathon, my daughter ended up on oxygen for a month with a complication from chemo, and I believe if I had actually done the marathon, I would not have been able to be there in the way she needed me to. Rebecca visited my daughter in the hospital that month, and she is one of the few visitors my daughter remembers from that time.
At any rate, Rebecca is an amazing person whose ripple is large. She knows life is what we make it, and she lives on that edge of constantly being reminded of her own mortality. She has a devoted husband and motivation to continue using her energy on behalf of others, partly as a way to ease the grief of her condition. Her last year’s surgery impacted her facial nerve, so she can no longer grace the world with her smile, but she graces the world with her spirit in a big way.
Postponed until 2012, a documentary is in the works about her attempted climb of Kilimanjaro. I coincidentally ran into her at a conference the week after her return from that adventure in 2010.