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Emily Morrison Emily Morrison
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Bridging the Gap

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Bridging the Gap via Wikimedia user SarekFfVulcan

My sister Mary and I "bridged the gap today." Starting at the legendary Fort Knox, Bridge the Gap is a 10-mile road race around Verona Island to sponsor RSU #25 middle school students trip to Camp Kiev. It was scenic in places, but chilly and hilly everywhere else. From the bone chilling winds gusting through us while we crossed The Penobscot Narrows Bridge to the mile-nine hills, we ran our ever-lovin' arses off. But today's race wasn't just a trial run for Mary's first half marathon, it was a mile marker in our lives. 

Growing up, my sister and I never had a lot in common. Though we share the same parents, identical childhoods and roughly the same genetic make-up, that's about where our similarities end. In my flightier moments, she has always told me, 'You're just like dad' and with her 'What's your objective here?' attitude I have always thought 'She's just like mom.' Dad is an abstract, excessively positive type of fellow, and mom's a concrete, quick witted counterpart. The product of polar opposites, Mary and I are an interesting assimilation of our parents' combined traits. I'm enthusiastic but absent-minded, where Mary's optimistic but down-to-earth. When we were younger (teen years) these differences kept us from seeing each other's strengths.

Luckily, our next decade issued in a new era: an end to the teen angst and the beginning of blessed sisterhood. How did we become blessed sisters? By becoming blessed mothers. When Mary and I became moms, we became more alike. We had to. I became more practical, more grounded (like her) and she became more laid back, more spur of the moment (like me). I discovered that I couldn't raise three children without any semblance of order (believe me, I tried) and she discovered she couldn't raise two children without scrapping some of her plans (believe me, she tried). When it's been a long day and one of us needs some words of encouragement we have a couple mottos to live by: 'nips, knucks and tummy tucks' for those hard days when our husbands aren't home, and 'keep calm and carry on' for those run of the mill days when the kids are crazy and we're crazier.

After our kids were born, my sister and I started running away all of the stress that comes with raising chilluns. Plus, we just want to be hot moms. Having this outlet in common has added one more link in our sister chain (we did have real sister chains, but we lost them between babies four and five). Though I've done a couple of marathons, this past year Mary began training for her first half marathon. I jumped at the chance to train with her. In between bouts of heavy breathing, snot rockets and overall grossness, there's a lot of time to talk on a two-hour run through the countryside. 

Throughout the race, Mary would remind me not to talk to every runner. New to the nuances of the running world, I took it upon myself to show Mary how runners talk to each other. By the second passersby she said, 'You don't need to tell everyone 'Good job!'' I got a little miffed but quickly got 'passed it.' Every step of the way I kept telling her, 'You're doing awesome! You're doing it! Keep doing it! You just killed that hill! You're killing it, massacring it!' She told me she might kill me if I kept talking. Though she was irritated by my inability to blow a snot rocket, she didn't complain once and kept up her half of our steady 'We can do it!' dialogue. She became the Apollo to my Rocky. 'Come on Rock!' she goaded me as we slugged out the last hill. As corny as it sounds, we even hummed the Rocky theme song 'Da da daaaa... Da da daaaa...' (She's got a little of Dad in her, too.) 

A half mile before we crossed the finish line, Mary picked up her pace. Taller than me, she stretched out her legs, quickened her step and started really hitting the pavement. She told me we were going to kick this last mile and finish strong. How like her, to dig deep, to pull it all together when her legs are hurting and lungs are burning. I was just hoping to glide into the finish line with an easy jog, make it look good. Not Mary. She had to sprint in front of me for the last 20 feet, crossing the finish line mere moments before her vivacious younger sister. 

As I stared at her back blowing past me, I realized something. Two things really. First, Mary's a sneaky little competitor, but I knew that all along. I realized that I've been following in my sister's footsteps my whole life. Today, I ran beside her. We were finally in the same place at the same time, on the road and in our lives. With every mile we log together, the distance between our differences has become obsolete.    

After the race, while she was hugging me for heat and I was hugging her to keep myself upright, I looked across the parking lot at our mother walking toward us. She was smiling at us, proud that we had finally learned what she in her infinite wisdom has always known. At that moment, it didn't matter who was more like who, which one of us talks to random passersby and which one of us has a love for label making. We were our parents' children, and we bridged the gap together.

Last modified on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 14:07


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