Wednesday, January 20, 2010

walking in honor and memory of cancer victims

A few months ago I did a cancer walk with a girlfriend who lost her mother, sister and brand new baby nephew to cancer all this year. It's an absolute tragedy. I've been thinking so deeply not only of what she's going through but anyone suffering through a health crisis or loss (or both). There really are no words. All I can offer is my thoughts, friendship and support.

And so we walked.

The morning started at 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday.

I am missing the portion of the brain that allows one to accurately plan bedtime properly and so at 2am the night before, I glanced at the clock and said, "crap!!" and dove into bed, commanding sleep to fall upon me instantaneously. (THIS I can usually accomplish, thank goodness.)

4:30 came too soon. Me, before dawn:

I want to say something poetic like "the skies were crying for us" because it was pouring, but no, the Gods weren't happy with simple sobs. No, these were tears of sleet. (Thanks, G, that was awesome.) We got there safely, however, and signed in.

Checking in.

I kept choking up, thinking each person here has lost someone (almost 10,000 people!). Some wore signs like "in memory of mom" or "in honor of my sis" but everyone had a story. Here we were, stripped of our daily veneers, raw and open. Walking together to give something back to those dearly missed but also to each other.

The power of like company in grief is mighty.

Some people wore pink:

Pink ladies.

Pink bunnies.

Even Toto wore pink!

Most of us wore warm jackets and ponchos to shield against the damp cold.

Our group got separated by the crowd and I found myself walking next to only one of the other members. We walked along quietly at first until I ventured, "Are you here because you lost someone or because you're supporting J?" And she told me her story. She opened up and we hugged, cried, and laughed, sharing stories of loss and hope. I felt absolutely stripped bare and yet somehow truly alive, standing there in the cold rain, offering all I had -- myself -- in the face of loss and pain. And it mattered.

Here we are at two miles:

Two miles.

Then we found the rest of our group:

All together again!

Prize marigolds, J's mom's favorite flower.

The walk was only a tiny symbolic gesture but every day I think of her and others facing illness and loss. With my thoughts, I hope to pay a silent tribute: your loss matters to me. I care, and I am sorry for your pain. I think of you more than you know.


BigSis said...

How awesome! Breast cancer runs in my family and I always talk about a walk like this, but never do it. Good for you for following through, especially in the freezing rain!

geekhiker said...

That is extremely cool of you. Good juju. :)

carissajaded said...

Somehow I missed this!! I love that you did this. Breast Cancer runs in my family too, and is something that I am constantly thinking about... Hugs!

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