So ... the 40th birthday happened. As did the half-marathon. And I think I can officially declare Plan 40 to have been successfully completed. From a major low point two years ago, til now, I’ve made some pretty big changes. In the previous entry, I wrote about running. Today, I’m writing about turning things around in our marriage ... via running.
(Okay, really, it’s not entirely about running. But it’s a decent metaphor.)
Two years ago, on my 38th birthday, I wrote an entry in my journal, summing up my life at that point: “So, that’s where things stand: overweight, career stalled, struggling as a parent and unhappy as a wife. It wasn’t always this way. In 2003, when I was 30, I was featured in Crain’s Chicago Business as a “rising star” on its 40 Under 40 list. I’ve still got two years left before I turn 40, so I’m giving myself that time to get things turned around. And, to keep myself honest, I’m going to track my progress here.”
I called this project of getting my life back on “rising star” track, “Plan 40.” And the plan is just about complete. Here’s how things stand with one day left in my 30s.
As a Sun-Times reporter in 2002, I interviewed Mamie Till Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till. His name has been in the news again of late because of the obvious parallels to the Trayvon Martin case.
July 25 was Emmett Till’s birthday, by the way. Had he lived, he’d be turning 72 next week.
I’m reprinting my original article about Mrs. Mobley here, in its entirety, though there are parts of it that are painful for me to read now. I was new to Chicago then and appallingly ignorant of some of the city’s history and geography. And, more significantly, I hadn’t had kids yet. At the time, I would slapped anyone who had the audacity to say that if you’re not a mother, you can’t understand what it is to lose a child, but, now, I think, I get it. My urge to shelter and protect my boys is overwhelming and primal and occasionally irrational. I would kill or die for them. But I still don’t know if I have the mettle that Mrs. Mobley had: she made the world look at what had been done to her baby. She lost a son, but she gave the world a martyr. She gave him life, for a second time, as a symbol. When I spoke with her, I thought that was incredibly impressive. Looking back on it, now, I think it must have been damn near impossible. I don’t know how she found the strength.