03 April 2008

Hey mom, this one's for you! :)

As I was saying, last Friday night my sister's family and I headed out to a beautiful park in old Katy with about a million other people (okay, maybe just half a mil) for the west Houston Relay for Life. Basically, it was just a chance to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, show support for cancer survivors and their caretakers, and raise some money for the American Cancer Society. My sister and I had been wanting to do something like this for a while and were excited when her Sunday School class was getting a team together. I think we just felt like it was important to be involved in this whole cancer thing (I still don't really know what words to use for it) and I guess just be a part of the huge community of individuals and families who have been hugely impacted by this disease. So...my brother-in-law, nephew, sis and I put on our walking shoes to go see what all this hubub was about. Let me just say my sister and I were completely unprepared for what the night would really be like. We just didn't expect it to be emotional. I'm not sure why, I guess we just didn't think about it. However, there were so many aspects of the evening that seemed to get down inside of us. Seeing so many people in their matching Relay for Life t-shirts had an impact. Seeing all the people wearing their purple shirts signifying they are "cancer survivors" had an impact. Listening to the personal stories people shared had an impact. Hearing announcements of the youngest survivor (11 years old I think) and the oldest survivor (An 82 year old man who drove his family to the event) had an impact. Seeing hundreds of lit up luminaries in honor and in memory of those who either have fought or are still fighting cancer lined up all along the pathway had a powerful and significant impact on both of us. I think the most emotional part of the evening for us was watching the group of survivors kicking-off the night as they made their initial trek around the path. We all stood on the sidelines and cheered for them as they physically took one step after another and also to encourage them as they bravely take steps along such an arduous physical, mental, and spiritual journey of life after a cancer diagnosis. Huge. My sister and I, with just a little bravery, tried to hold back tears and smile and clap as they all walked past us. Our mom was far away, but seemed very very close in that moment. It was so powerful to both of us to feel a connection with this community of people who have been impacted by cancer - people who have felt just like us, who were completed blindsided by this intruder into their families, who have cried together, who have experienced defeats and triumphs, people who have shared this journey. At moments the weight of it was unbearable to think of all the pain and struggle these people have and continue to walk through. Yet somehow at the same time, the burden seemed a little bit lighter when shared with so many people. Belonging is huge, even when it's a club like this one. So, we did our little part and walked our hour together from 8:00-9:00 p.m. as the sun began to set. As always, my nephew was the life of the party as he walked, did fancy dance moves, played on the playground and drank 4 mini smoothies! We walked with the crowd and read the names on the luminaries. We ate barbeque. We laughed. We sang along with the entertainer singing, "I Will Survive!" We were proud of our mom. We shed a few tears. We shared in the moment of silence. We prayed. We listened. We watched. We participated. And mostly, we just belonged.

1 comment:

Michawn said...

I did the Relay For Life when I lived in Longview and was just out of college. It was so super inspiring...and so much fun. We stayed the whole night. I cried when the survivors did their walk too...and I haven't even been touched up close and personal like you have by this cancer stuff. So, completely normal for sure.

So glad you had such a great night with such great, courageous people. Give your mom a big high five for me next time you see her. ;)