For some, it’s considered unlucky. For me, thirteen was the number of years between my two hospitalizations for depression. These years represented a time period of ups and downs, of profound despair intermixed with times of joy. My two hospitalizations were bookends for a tumultuous time in my life.

Now, thirteen is my number of hope.

Last Sunday, I ran thirteen miles (a half marathon) in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, a race that pays tribute to the lives that were lost thirteen years ago. As their website says, “It is not about running—it is about living.”

I had developed a head cold the week before. My husband had been traveling. My schedule had become so full that I had not devoted proper time to train for this event. Yet despite the cold, windy, wet weather, I ran. Not because it was easy for me. Not because I have a natural running ability…I most certainly do not. Not even because I particularly enjoy the act of running. I ran for all of those people who could not run, who will never be able to run here on earth again. Along the course, there were 168 flags, one for each life lost in the Oklahoma City bombing. 168…one life shy of thirteen multiplied by thirteen. For them, I ran. I figured that, if given the chance, these people would have said, “Michelle, I’d love to have the ‘problems’ that you’ve had these past few weeks. I’d love to have a cold. I’d love to be the one responsible for taking care of my precious babies while my spouse traveled…”

On May thirteenth, my Welcome The Rain book and inspirational movie will officially be released. This book, which has thirteen “Welcome…” chapters, each devoted to a different type of rain, shows that we make our own luck. No number, event, or situation will define me. It is up to me to decide how I will live.

I will write. I will run. I will live.

Because I am here. Because I can. Because I am alive.

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  • Michelle,
    I am so proud of you. You are an inspiration to us all. I love your insight into the number 13. Here is a bit more about the importance of “13”:
    Have you ever noticed how a Marine Corps honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America Flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but it’s not! Here is an explanation of the folding of the flag. I also provided a link to a website dedicated to the U.S. Flag.
    The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
    The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.
    The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.
    The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.
    The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
    The 6th fold is for where people’s hearts lie. It is with their heart that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
    The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.
    The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.
    The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
    The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.
    The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
    The 13th fold is really the final tucking in of the edge, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their nations motto, “In God We Trust.”
    After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.
    There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning. In the future, you’ll see flags folded and now you will know why.