It’s 2:00 pm on Saturday afternoon, and I am just rolling out of bed. I’m moving pretty slow and my feet feel like I have walked for days…on rocks. Last night was a friend’s Relay for Life event, and I spent the night walking the Lee’s Summit High School track to honor and support all those who are battling cancer, those who won their fights and most importantly, those who lost their battles.
Before my friend was diagnosed, the only people I had known with cancer were grandparents. And for whatever reason, it’s easier to wrap your head around older people getting sick. I suspect it’s also because I’ve quietly accepted the fact that we will all die of cancer. But when my friend, who is only a few years older than me, told us she had been diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t even know how to process that information. Suddenly, instead of it being someone old or someone who knows someone who knows someone, it was someone just like me. And it brought cancer front and center.
I didn’t know what to expect last night but figured as a runner I had the legs and stamina to offer some solid time on the track. What I fell into was an emotional and inspirational night.
I met the 4 girls who are part of my friend’s blended family. Ranging in age from 9-17, I cannot imagine wrangling that much estrogen all at once.But they are beautiful, caring girls who were all out there for the long haul to support my friend.
I learned more than I ever thought I would about the world of Minecraft courtesy of my friend’s completely wacky, energy filled little boy. He took a break from his hours of solo dancing midfield to read Minecraft game strategy to me. His energy has been deemed ADHD, but I believe he will use that energy to do something great one day.
I got the chance to meet and walk with a woman my friend has known since grade school. She has spent the past few years dealing with her own medical and health challenges but, despite her struggles, she was my walking partner for three miles and provided great company and fantastic conversation. I was also honored to walk the laps of silence with her as the luminaries were lit. Thanks for the three miles!
I walked lap after lap behind an elderly man making his way around the track with a cane. Him and his family moved at a snail’s pace whenever he took the track, but he was out there walking for someone. In the middle of one lap, as me and my friend rounded the track behind him, he literally stopped and got down with his bad ass as he passed the DJ. I later had a conversation with him as I helped him at the coffee stand and discovered he walked with the cane due to a stroke. His goal is to be off the cane by the end of the year. That was enough for me drag myself out of my chair for yet another lap.
I experienced the full moon that night which just so happened to be Friday the 13th. According to the husband, that won’t happen again for another 50 some odd years. I got to see it, big and yellow on the horizon and then watch it move across the sky the entire night. It was like a spotlight shining down on us, and it was fantastic.
My favorite part of the evening was getting to witness my friend’s husband systematically (and quite stealthily) break down and pack up their two areas without anyone even realizing what he was doing. I turned around at one point and three tables were just gone. The next time I turned around all the chairs were missing. And I had been standing there the whole time. He’s so efficient he packed half of my stuff into their car before I could even realize he had picked my stuff up. The highlight was when he broke their tent down around sleeping children. It was awesome.
It was a beautiful night to spend outside, with some amazing people donating my time to a great cause. When all was said and done, I walked 6 & ¼ miles. And yes, I was tired and exhausted and sore for the rest of the weekend. But I still have the breath in me to go and do something like that and have never had to fight and recover from such a horrible disease. So a little sore is no skin off my back.
Thanks Traci for letting me share in the evening. You are a far stronger woman than I am, and I am honored to call you my friend. I will gladly give you miles any day, any year!