This weekend I participated in Relay for Life. It is a cause very close to my heart since I lost my lifelong best friend to cancer when we were 21. I can think of no better cause to spend a sleepless night for, with blisters on my feet, aching muscles and exhaustion for. It is worth every second and every step. I carry Lacy with me everyday, but I never feel her as strongly as I do on the track at Relay for Life.
It was a super hot weekend to be walking on a track. It was in the 90’s and the sun was shining. It was gorgeous! Even at night it was pretty warm. It got really damp from the humidity, but it was a beautiful night with the stars, the peepers and the candles burning in honor of and remembrance of so many who have faced cancer.
After a few miles of walking the track, I did an hour of zumba (they do a fundraiser at relay). I’m fairly certain is was the longest hour of my life but it was great to see my kids and husband behind the stage, walking, dancing and laughing. I swear, no event brings people together in such an amazing way.
After that I walked a couple laps with my kids and my hubby before they headed home for the night. It was the first night since my youngest was born (9 months ago) that I have spent a night away from him. From the time they left, I probably walked the track for at least 2 straight hours, breaked for some food, then went back to it. My longest break was probably around 2:30 when I tried to nap with no luck, before heading back on to the track. Around 10, they shut off all the lights on the track, with only the lights from the luminarias lighting the way.
We listened to a local woman talk about the loss of her husband. He died after a fierce battle with colon cancer on Christmas Eve. He was also the speaker at last year’s relay. Her words were beautiful, inspiring and heart wrenching. Her story was followed by a lap of silence. I held it together fairly well until the music started. When Sarah Mclachlan’s voice echoed in the darkness with “I will remember you…” the tears started to flow. I walked arm in arm with a fellow team member as we sniffled and sang along. As a senior in high school a bunch of us took a dance class together. One of our ballet songs was “I will remember you”. Lace and I stood next to each other, and when I closed my eyes Friday night, I could see her smiling, dancing. She was so beautiful.
Another song played was “You Raise me Up.” That song was played at Lace’s memorial. I remember sitting on the porch at her memorial, feeling the breeze in my hair with tears streaming down my checks. I feel it just like it was yesterday. When that song played on the track, the breeze picked up, and as the tears flowed down my face, Lacy with with me, and it was the most beautiful feeling I have experienced since my children were born.
In total I walked 15 miles and was awake from 7:00 in the morning on Friday until 8:30 Saturday night (got a nap in from 8-9 Saturday morning!), I cried countless tears, shared tons of laughs with my amazing team mates and traded stories with people I had never met and may never meet again. I got deliriously tired, laughed at things that were likely not funny, held hands and cried with my cousin, a cancer survivor. I saw children walking the track in shirts with “Survivor” on the front and the words, “I am Hope” on the back. I went way over my weight watchers points for the day (Saturday I had 2 bagels and a donut before 8 a.m. Oops…lol) but I would do it all again in an instant.
I know it is a lot of hard work, it’s a big commitment. It’s exhausting and stressful, but it is nothing compared to what those who face cancer deal with on a regular basis. It may not bring back my best friend, but I know every year, she relays with me, and that is worth more than I can ever express.