Sophie's Run 2009
(Erik, Brandon, and Cole. The "Three Amigos.")
We made it to Sophie's Run, the 5K for Erik's friend with WS, again this year. It has become a special tradition in our family. This was our fourth year. The first year we went, Erik's diagnosis had only been official for about a month, and I was in tears an awful lot. As time has passed, it has become a celebration with my friends and family. It almost feels like some sort of family reunion to me. Many of us have emotions just underneath the surface that threaten to spill here and there, but that sloppy state is perfectly acceptable in this setting. I find that absolutely refreshing. We still cry occasionally, but we don't have to do it alone, and we find ourselves laughing until it hurts, too. I did an awful lot of laughing this year.
We set up camp in a room at our favorite hotel. Brian was kind enough to get a room with a view of the river so that we could watch the university crew team practice. The men and women's teams silently glided by at amazing speed in their knife-like boats, blinding me with bodies covered in pasty skin that had yet to see sun this season. Unfortunately, our room only contained one generous-sized bed. As the hotel was packed full of high school kids and their band instruments, we were unable to switch rooms.
We headed downtown to a campus sports bar to meet my parents and my aunt for dinner and to watch the Portland Trailblazers play. We feasted on burgers and fries, and Erik watched the world go by through a large window behind our booth. From there, we headed to the grocery store for cold medicine. I have been ill since last Tuesday and figured I would need something to sleep if I would be sharing a bed with two other people who have a tendency to snore. Erik absolutely freaked out in the store. His behavior made it impossible for either of us to navigate the place with him, and he screamed and whined. I could hear him aisles away as I grabbed the items I needed. I ended up carrying him out to the Jeep to wait for Brian to pay for our things. By the time we arrived at our room, he was beside himself, screaming that he wanted to go home and hitting the bed with his fists. We were finally able to get him to lie down between us by shutting off the lights and climbing into bed ourselves, and he calmed down for most of the night. He awoke once mumbling about fireworks and began touching my face, identifying my nose, mouth, and ears in the dark with the hoarse, Williamsy tone he sometimes prefers to use, making me giggle against my will through my exasperation.
After a restless but surprisingly successful night's sleep, some of which I spent on the floor, we showered and dressed, expecting to load our things in the car, eat a continental breakfast, and head to the park for the event. Erik began to cough. I then heard his stomach make a sound much like a sloshing aquarium. He looked slightly confused. I ran to him, swooped him up, and sprinted to the bathroom with him just as he began vomiting. As he cried and heaved in my arms, I felt relief knowing there was a reason his behavior has been so out of control for the past few days. He looked up at me through his tears and said, "Mama, I spit orange!" See, Erik associates throwing up with oranges, as he had just eaten one the first time he remembers upchucking. "Spitting orange" is now the term he uses, no matter what he has just consumed.
I called my parents, who were camping nearby, and informed them that Erik was sick. By this time, Brian had taken over my post on the bathroom floor. We told them we would see them at the park. We would simply pick up our race packets, say hello, and go home.
How I underestimate the power of Erik Quinn.
The boy perked up at the park and immediately began a thorough inspection of the wheels and tires of the vehicles around our Jeep. He greeted people with smiles. I reconnected with my friends from other parts of the state. Sophie sang the National Anthem to the crowd of about 450 people with bold, beautiful confidence, and I stopped chatting with my friend in the parking lot to listen. We both had tears streaming down our faces and laughed at ourselves when the song was finished. Before I knew it, I was in the center of a large, talkative crowd at the starting line, and we all began to walk or run. Erik rode on various shoulders without hurling on anyone and even ran some of the course. In fact, he completed the whole dang thing.
Of course, in the words of Erik's favorite stuffed animal, Stinky Dog, he still "felt like woof," and after some time playing in the misty weather on the playground after the event, we loaded him into the car with his favorite blanket and DVD for the trip home, opting out of Sophie's birthday pizza party this year. We said our goodbyes and headed over the mountain. Erik doesn't ever really sleep in the car but seemed happy to ride, and his giggles sounded wonderful as he watched his video.
I smiled all the way home.