She called at 5:31 a.m. from the South Street Seaport, Pier 17, her voice, once again, barely able to contain her excitement and happiness.

"I'm freezing," she said. "And I already know how I'm going to pack better for next year."

On the flight up, she said the pilot had announced her name plus the three other walkers going up for the event. She chatted with the two women from Daytona who completed the walk last year. The hotel she stayed in with three other women was nice. She did not mention her back, but then again, she wouldn't.

In the background I heard hundreds of similarly bubbling voices -- all of them walking to end breast cancer, some of them in memory of those who have passed, some of them as a testament to fighting it.

"It's amazing here. I just wanted to call you before we left."

I told her I loved her and that I knew she would have a terrific time.

"Oh yeah, yeah. It's going to be great."

We hung up. Not her words but her joy echoed with me. I stayed in bed after that longer than I had intended, stretched across both my side and hers. The sun had warmed up the bird songs tuning in the tree-lined chamber of the backyard, and a door opened in the hallway.

RunningHammer came in brandishing two wooden backscratchers like swords. "I'm a ninja, Daddy, and I love you." As a jogger floated through the drops of sun and shade on my street, I walked out to get the paper, coaxing my Achille's toward something resembling usefulness, both envious and proud of Vix, who will take many more steps for others before tomorrow is over.