In passing they touched my life

I had two very different experiences happen to me that have touched my heart. One happened on the Sammamish River Trail and the other in Red Robin. Two very different experiences, yet the touch on my heart was the same.

The first incident happened on the Sammamish River Trail during one of my runs. The trail runs along the Sammamish Slough and is a local favorite for bikers, walkers, runner, roller bladers, of all sorts, from the serious athlete to the family out for an afternoon walk. I love running on this trail because there are no hills and the view is often beautiful. I've seen bald eagles in the trees. I like to make eye contact with everyone I meet on the trail and tip my hat. I don't always get a response, but I like to smile at them anyway. It makes a long run just a touch better.

On my longest run a few weeks ago, I witnessed something for only a brief moment but I've thought about it ever since. It was my long run, 180 minutes or THREE HOURS, and I had carefully set out my route so that when I was at the end I would be at a place for Steve to pick me up. I didn't want to walk a step further than I had too. My plan was to run from 60 acres to Marymoor part (45minutes to, so 90 round trip), then up past Woodinville (another 45 minutes up, so 90 round trip for 180 minutes). I had just had my turn around at Marymoor and I was struggling. My neuropathy was killing me and the five hours I spent on the soccer sidelines was catching up with me. I so desperately wanted to call it quits. I knew I couldn't but I sure did. Then I look up and there coming towards me was a man in a wheel chair. We made eye contact and we both smiled at each other.

It wasn't just his smile that made me keep going, but the thought that he was propelling himself with just his arms. I couldn't stop thinking about him. He too was "running" without a partner. A partner helps so much when you don't think you can take another step. I'm sure he would have loved to have a partner push him, just like I would have.

I made it all the way past Woodinville and was just about back to Marymoor park, when this young man in the wheelchair came "running" toward me again. We again exchanged pleasantries. He was able to smile at me after close to two hours between meetings.

I've thought about him on most every run since then. If he, a person just using his arms, can propel himself forward for over two hours with just his arms, then I'm able to keep running with both legs and arms. I wish I knew his name, but I will never forget his smile and his courage.

Tonight, Jessica and I were at dinner at Red Robin. We were close to the end of our dinner when the hostess sat a couple just across the walk way from us. The young lady caught my eye because she had a corsage on her wrist. I looked at her and noticed that she was very attractive. Then I saw her date. I knew right away that this young man was mentally challenged. His mother was with them. As the hostess directed them to the table, the young man literally leaped for joy and let out a squeal that most any young boy would give upon seeing what Santa had brought him.

They sat down and ordered drinks. I watched them for a moment and the young woman was totally engaged with this young man. She engaged both the mother and her date. He was on cloud nine and tried so hard not to squeal yet again. Their conversation must have been engaging as both the young woman and young man talked with each other. The mother put her two cents in when necessary and kept a gentle hand on her son's knee. I suspect she was keeping him in his seat.

Jessie and I finished our meal and had to leave, but I sure would have liked to stay and watched how that date ended. I don't know how that young woman will look back on that date, but I have an idea of how that young man and that mother will look back on it. I know I will remember that young woman's patience, kindness and grace as well as a mother's love and devotion.

I witnessed two people who went beyond themselves and made my life a little better. I wish to express my thanks to the four people who are total strangers to me and yet have touched my life and my heart.