“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all” Emily Dickinson


I’ve had this thing about feathers and HOPE since my cancer diagnosis now many years ago. The two have been connected for me since the first time I saw this quote with credit to Emily Dickinson.

While the two are connected I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it. That is until my Mom died two years ago. I never stop wondering why I’m still here after 9 years and so many I loved are gone. I don’t think about it quite as much as I used to, but as I hear of someone else’s passing, it does get to me. But I keep trying to live my life as fully as possible to honor those I’ve lost. That’s part of the reason I started running to live fully, I must be healthy.

My running career has never been easy. I always think it will improve, but I haven’t lost any sleep about it or just how slow this “Turtle Runner” is. It’s never been about speed or the trophy, the shirt you get maybe, but not the 1st place finish. This year has been probably tougher than last year. It’s October and I finally have a schedule, well at least better than the first part of the year. Almost every time I go out it’s a struggle. I fight with myself to keep going, but I always do keep going. The yelling is not as loud as it used to be. That’s a good thing.

I set a goal a few weeks back to run my own 5K EVERY Friday till the end of the year. Today was not any different, I knew I had to get out and do it, but it was the first really cold day. Cold for me at 35 degrees. I kept thinking if I could just have a whoppin’ big HOT Flash when I open the door and hit that cold breeze it would feel good! But those things usually only hit me at 3:15am, covers off, covers on, covers off, covers on and the fan on all the time! So I “manned up” and took off running as soon as I was out the door. No waiting to get to the road.

But every single Friday I’ve gone out, this makes my 4th Friday, I’ve been pluggin’ along, legs hurting or like today lungs screaming and at my lowest point mentally I’ve seen a feather. It’s either just been laying there in my path or like today floated down in front of me. As soon as I see it, my heart smiles and it’s a little lighter as I plod on. I saw a condom laying on my road once, and it’s packaging on the other side of the road and the KY jelly box and while I’m glad my neighbors are practicing safe sex, it did not motivate me to move faster.

No the feather is what gets me though it. As soon as I see it I think not of myself, but of those I believe these feathers are sent from. I think of my Mom and Andrew especially. I never knew Andrew, but his mother Jill is a beautiful person and friend. Andrew died too soon for those who loved him. As much as I loved my Mom, it was time for her to go. I could not bear to see her suffer.

I can’t believe these feathers I see are some crazy coincidence. They come right when they are needed and they have been coming frequently these last few months it seems, not just when I’ve been running either, but ALWAYS when I need a little push, always when my heart needs to be a little lighter. I believe I’m a tiny bit sorry for the bird that lost it, but his loss has been my joy. I’m sorry if there is a few bald birds lounging around these days, but I’m all about the feathers and the hope they’ve brought me.


About jlturtlerunner

12 plus Years Surviving Stage IV Oral Cancer. I have become a "Turtle" runner since that diagnosis, as a way of saying, "Take That Sucker!" After 12 years of being a Turtle Runner, I'm adding a new title, Turtle Rucker!

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