Friday, June 3, 2011

Walking for Jane

We walked for Jane tonight.  The American Cancer Society was holding a Relay for Life and we assembled a team at work to walk in memory of Jane.

We made shirts that said, "Jane's True Blue Crew."  We wore them as we walked around and around the track.

The first lap was for cancer survivors.

Yvonne got to walk that lap.  She is a two year breast cancer survivor.

The second lap was for caregivers of cancer patients.  Jane's husband, daughter and granddaughters walked that lap.  It was so good to see them and have the chance to chat with them.

Those of us from work walked. We talked, we laughed, we asked each other about our plans for the weekend.

This is Laura.  She took in some of the sights of the evening.

She asked me to take a picture of this particular gentleman so she could turn it into her screen saver at work.  I wasn't supposed to get the girl in the picture.  I told Laura he looked better from the front but she said any angle would do.  So, there you have it.  I thought about running around in front of him and asking him to pause his walking for a second, but I didn't have the guts.


We walked.  We walked around and around the track.  I heard someone in our group mention something about all the stories that were walking around the track.  I can't even imagine.  Stories of survival.  Stories of what it was like to hear the word 'cancer' and the shock the mere mention of the word brought to that instant.  The instant you are told that you have it.  Stories of what it feels like to be a survivor and to constantly wonder if the 'c' word is coming back every time you catch a cold or feel an unusual ache.  Stories about what it feels like to have something evil growing inside you.  I wonder if you feel betrayal somehow.  Anger.  As if your body has cheated on you and abolished the trust you thought was present after all those years.

We walked and I wondered about the other stories.  The stories of those left behind.  The wife without her husband.  The husband without his wife.  The kids without their mom or dad.  They were walking too.  Did they feel angry?  What was it like for them after the funeral?  Everyone else went on with life but their life was changed in a way they couldn't even put words behind.  Did they see their friends and want to smack them?  No, they are not OK.  No, it is not fair.  No, I'm not really fine.  No, you don't understand because you've never lost my loved one.  If God knows what we can handle, when is enough, enough?  What about four or five months after the funeral? A year?  Two years?  Will anyone still remember their story?  Their loss?  Their heartache? Will everyone expect them to be normal again?  What the heck does the word normal mean in the first place?  Will they still want to spend as much time as they can at the grave site?

We kept walking.  Around and around that track.  Walking.  Walking. Walking and living our story.

For some reason while I was thinking about all this, one of my favorite verses came to mind.

I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit faints with longing.  
Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.

Here's the best part.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God;
may your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143).

The track tonight was very level.  It was made of some kind of spongy material and it was really easy to walk on. As we walked around and around maybe everyone who was carrying a story of survival, of loss, of anger,  of frustration and endless questions, maybe we were all walking towards morning and we didn't even realize it.  

Maybe that's why we all have to keep on walking.

I think that's why we walked for Jane tonight.

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