Three years ago, there was a young girl in my husband's Student Council Core that had had cancer as a child. She asked if the core could be a team and walk in the relay as one of their service projects for the year. Of course they did and it has become a tradition for them ever since. I have walked in the relay before, but it was never personal!
When the walk began they had survivors stand in a line and tell our names and how long we have been on the cancer journey. Everyone gave their name and then gave a number in "years." I was the only one in the line that said, "4 months." While hearing all the "years" was very encouraging, it was also a reminder of how short a time we have been on our journey and what a whirlwind it has been so far and still is. We are still fighting and haven't yet come out on the other side. The next thing was the call for survivors to take the first lap, and I did get teary eyed. I don't think I would have made it around if it hadn't been for a sweet woman who sidled up next to me and talked with me the whole way round. A second lap was then done with our "caregivers" joining us on the track. I loved walking around with my family and my 3 oldest kids all held my hands and walked very closely to me. I think it was a good experience for them to think about my cancer but to also see so many others and their families who have battled it too.
Around 10:00 p.m., the candle or luminary ceremony began. White bags with candles in them were placed the entire length of the track and were lit "in honor" of or "in memory" of someone who had been touched by cancer. A young girl in my husband's Core had purchased a luminary in my honor and it was very surreal lighting the candle with my family and all those awesome young high school kids standing around me in a circle, hemming me in with their love and support. We then all took a lap together in the darkness and silence with a man on a bagpipe leading the way playing "Amazing Grace." A very touching experience again for my kids I think. Emma was crying, Hallie was reading all the bags on the side as we passed, Nathan was silent (he was very tired...way past his bed time), and Micah was, believe it or not, quiet as a mouse. He must have sensed something though because he spent the whole time walking from one student to the next without a word giving them big hugs.
It was a great "walk" and I look forward to next year. Of course my husband and the Core stayed at the walk till 5:30 a.m. They always run all night long with games for the teams, etc. and someone from your team walking on the track at all times. My girls wanted to stay, but were just too tired and we were not prepared. Next year, our plan is to let them stay all night with Daddy and we'll pack their sleeping bags, etc. like the big kids did! I think it will make awesome memories for them some day!
It was a fun memory for me too, and good preparation for the walk that is being done in my honor this weekend of Mother's Day coming up. I'm sure that one is going to be even more emotional for me. I guess it doesn't hurt every once in a while to be reminded that you are loved!