I have never run a marathon.

Even in the years that I was really fit, marathons seemed like a hard challenge. You need to train, and then actually do it. I hear that the feeling at the end cannot be beat!

The past ten weeks have been a serious marathon. This particular group in juvie was broken, violent, edgy, and hard to reach. My marathon had a winding road, many ups and downs, and for a while I really could not see, or even believe that I would ever see the finish line, let alone actually get to it.

As in real marathons, I had many people cheering me on the way, handing me water, candy, and good wishes. There were all of you, who have been following my blog, sending messages, comments, and good vibrations. Each one giving me a push and momentum to keep going. There were people that contributed money, time, and effort. Every donation counted. It allowed us to buy props, pizza, fill our tanks with gas (literally and metaphorically), and simply keep running.

Then, there is my village, who listened, supported, took care of my kids, and applauded my every turn. And then there is my inner circle, who cupped my many tears in their hands, listened to my existential babble, and cleared the haze when I started getting a little delirious.

This was no easy marathon. This group in juvie was really like no other. At some point I felt like I wasn’t reaching the girls, that I cannot make a difference. I started to feel like I will never reach the finish line, and this week, even when I could see it clearly, I wasn’t confident.

Two girls got early release, one went to the dentist, and another was transferred to a different facility. Two got in a fight; one talked back to me. Although I could see that finish line ribbon, and I know Thursday would arrive, I was exhausted, worried, and to be honest, a little defeated.

But through all of this, I never doubted the power of theatre. I have done this enough to know that Dr. Theatre always arrives before the show and does that theatre magic. But most of all, I will never stop believing that anyone and everyone, no matter how broken, can make it to the finish line, if we just let them and/or help them.

Today they did just that. We did it together. And it was unbelievable.

I wish you could have seen them, my girls. They were beautiful, really. My quiet girl didn’t stop talking. The very violent one was soft and kind. The African American put makeup on the rival Latina. My most hurting one shared her painful love letter with everyone and brought us all to tears. After, she told us how great it felt. I can only hop that this, this experience, will somehow mend her shattered heart.

We crossed the finish line, and well, it was awesome. My invincible assistant, who with grace and humor ran the entire marathon with me, and I were both so drained after the show we didn’t know if we were coming or going. When the show was over and after lunch, we took the girls into a small back room. “You did great. You did amazing. We are so proud.”

They were different. We sat huddled together. They were sitting on top of each other, close, calm, content. “This is to teach you that you can,” I tell them.

“Ya,” one says, “it is to give us hope.”
“No,” I say. “Not hope. You are not hoping to do it. YOU did it. You didn’t cuss for an hour and a half,” I add. (Although throughout the program I allow profanity, we keep it out of the final presentation.)
“Ya, that’s right,” they nod, agree, are astonished, and laugh.
“My heart was beating so hard before the show I thought it was going to jump out,” one giggled.

We hugged. We kissed. I told them that when the winds of lure come to pull them back to their old ways, they need to remember today, and that they can do better.

I barely made it home, and fell into bed and slept for two hours. My body aches a little. I am beat, such it is when you finish a marathon.

So this holiday season and as we bring in 2015, I wish you all the strength and courage and faith to run your marathon, whatever it may be. I wish you the wisdom to know that you will make it to the finish line, even if you don’t cross it.

I’d like to thank you all again for running with me – because running by yourself can be so very lonely.

I will be on a break from juvie until the end of January. And then I will be back my hand reached out inviting you to join me. I hope you will.

Happy, happy holidays, and may the new year bring you an abundance of joy!!