So, I have a degenerative nerve disease that’s always made it difficult to run, among other things, and unfortunately Momo’s also gotten it from me. It’s mild, in the grand scheme of things that can go wrong in a body, but it’s something that’s basically dogged my every step, pun intended, for as long as I can remember.

As with many disabilities, the way I interact with the world and just simply exist is circumscribed by it. After thirty-six years, the possibility set of my body has calcified, Without sounding too defeated, I just don’t do things I know I can’t, anymore – I put those skill points into things I can.

Momo, though, doesn’t have that same baggage that I do – she hasn’t struggled to find shoes, or been picked last for gym, or felt like her feet were literally on fire just for walking on a hard floor. No one’s told her she needs to get smart so she can get a career off her feet. She’s a blank slate.

It’s hard, when she reminds me. When I bump up against the walls of this room I’ve forgotten were here. Watching her start to find those walls. Part of me wants to let her figure it out, as she will naturally, but another part desperately wants to upload all my experiences into her brain so that she doesn’t have to. Like, I already figured out what we can’t do – why does she have to go through the heartache of finding out on her own?

She placed last, by the way. As I watched her slow and then walk the rest of the race, her little face contorted in pain, I felt… such a complicated set of emotions. Empathy, of course. And shame, too. Sadness, for both of us, but also specifically for my young self, who lives in me and hurts all over again.

And… pride, when she stuck with it, and finished the race anyway. Dead last is still finishing the race. And, you know what: starting the race is also something to be applauded. Her unafraid soul is beautiful, as unblemished as new snow waiting for footprints.