Waking Olivia(110)

By: Elizabeth O Roark

Our son has asked me this no fewer than 100 times over the past hour. We are waiting at mile 70, and she’s been running for over 11 hours.

“Any minute now,” I tell him.

“That’s what you said last time,” he tells me reproachfully, reminding me a great deal of his mother.

“Should we go down to the bottom of the hill and run back up with her?”

He’s off like a shot. His mother’s son to the end. We jog to the bottom of the incline and wait, and despite her exhaustion, her face lights up when she sees us there.

“Mommy!” shouts Matthew, “you’re winning!”

She laughs, fatigue cutting the sound a little short. “There’s still 30 miles to go, baby. No one’s winning yet.”

“Daddy already told me you’re going to win,” he informs her, sounding a little put out.

She smiles at him. “Well, he is the one with the fancy degree, so I guess he’d know.”

I thought I would miss climbing when I went to medical school, but I like what I do. And it certainly comes in handy when you have a wife who tries to run 100 miles at a time. I’m nearly done with my residency, but I have a feeling things will still be pretty busy even when it’s over.

When we get into the rest station, my mother brings the baby over, and Olivia holds her with that kind of awestruck look she tends to get sometimes when she’s watching the kids, as if she can’t quite believe she’s created them.

“How do you feel?” I ask, pulling off her shoes. Blisters, bad ones, are unavoidable in this race, and she has several.

But when she looks at me her smile is dreamy. She takes in the family around us, the family we made, and her eyes grow damp. “I feel complete,” she sighs. “And it’s all because of you. You saved me, you know that?”

She sets off for the last leg of the race, giving me, Matthew, and the baby each a quick kiss. We begin packing up our gear to head to the finish line, where Brendan and Erin wait. I still think that them dating is a recipe for disaster, but Olivia reminded me that people thought the same thing about us once upon a time, so I’m keeping my mouth shut.

“How’s our girl holding up?” Peter asks.

“She’s good.” I smile. “I think fatigue is setting in. She almost got emotional.” I shake my head. “After all this time, she’s still under the impression that I saved her.”

“You did save her Will,” my mother replies. “And she saved you.”

I guess she’s right. And one day I’ll tell Olivia exactly that. But right now? It’s time to go to the finish line and watch my girl win a race.



Thank you first to my amazing editor, Jennifer Roberts-Hall. You were the perfect sounding board for all things Olivia-related, and I don’t know how I survived without you until now.

To Katie Foster Meyer, who basically determines right off the bat if a book gets published or goes in the trash. Thank you for reading and re-reading, for caring more than I do about NCAA compliance, liability, and keeping Olivia just on the right side of an assault conviction.

To Linda Russell at Sassy Sassy Fabulous PR for a million things. Thank you for holding my hand during the past two months, and for not laughing too hard at all my social media faux pas.

To my magnificent beta readers: Laura Ward Steuart (who, like Katie above, has to read a lot of my garbage to get to a keeper … thanks for sticking with it!), Nancy Coleman, Amy Meyer, Karen Metcalf, Erin Thompson and Deanna Wolstenholme.

To Amy Meldrim Foster for answering all of my cross-country questions, and Kari March Designs for gorgeous teasers and cover.

Many thanks to my friends (you know who you are), my kids (but God forbid you ever read this), and my family for their unflagging support and encouragement.

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