Sunday, September 11, 2011

Special Friend

I can not sleep tonight until I get out all the emotions that I experienced yesterday.  And I don't know how I can put this emotional wave into words so that I could possibly do it justice. So I will just type... 

I was a little caught off guard yesterday because I didn't know what to expect.  I had never been involved in or even attended a fundraising event for Cancer before so when I asked if I could join in to help support a special young girl that I know...I was completely overwhelmed.

I met this girl about a year ago...

She came into my life when her diagnosis was just weeks old.  Shock and denial, disbelief, fear of the upcoming,  rhabdomyo...what?, what do we do? how do we cope?  These were just a few of the many thoughts that raced through my mind as I took deep breathes to remain calm as her mom explained all the events that had occurred since the last time I saw them at the beach just two weeks earlier.  The eye infection she was telling me about that day...  didn't end up being an eye infection.

Jump ahead one year...

This past weekend our community hosted Relay for Life.  An event where teams of people walked all night to raise money for Cancer research.  People walked to support their loved ones who have fought their battles and won and in honor of the loved ones who will always be in our memories. 

Why all night?  "Simply because Cancer never sleeps."

The event began with a courageous victory lap involving all the many Cancer survivors.  I watched this special girl walk proudly, smiling brightly, because this event is truly a celebration for her.  Treatments are done.  Scans are clear.  And then it hits me.  The wave.  Tears start streaming from my eyes.  And Callie asks, "why are you crying mom?" 

I didn't know how to answer her.  I was thinking about how I was to help this special young girl this past year but in all honesty she taught me more than I ever could have offered her.  I learned medical terms and the names of the best nurses and the best doctors.  I learned about fear and frustration and anger at the world.  I learned about wanting to be normal.  I learned how to draw peace signs and hearts and rainbows and how to throw an awesome spa birthday party.  I learned about Selena Gomez, Sing it, and all the words to Firework. 

I learned to never take a moment of our precious lives for granted.

I watched her lead the sea of yellow shirts around the victory lap and I looked at the faces of these people.  People I know, people I pass on the street, people I see in the grocery store.  Most people I know.  Some I don't.  Parents and grandparents. Young and old.  All with one thing in common. 

They are survivors.

I have decided that there are not any words to describe the feeling of love and camaraderie that took place as people walked around that track. Like Helen Keller so wisely put it... "it must be felt with the heart."

As Callie and I walked, hand in hand around the track, she erupted with questions as only a four year old can.  Questions about Cancer and why people have no hair.  Questions about why some people can fight the bug and some people can't.  Questions about the little white bags with candles in them and what they were for. 

I struggled to answer these tough questions in  a way that she would understand.  So I told her about Papa's brothers.  She asked what Papa's brother's names were so I told her...Dale and Garry.  Then I told her about Nana and Papa.  And I tried so hard not to scare her or worry her as I fumbled trying to find the right words. 

And then I said, "We are going to light two candles tonight.  One for Dale and Garry because their body's couldn't fight off the bug and now they are in heaven.  And one for Nana and Papa because their body's did fight off the bug.  They are survivors.  Just like mommy's special young friend."


Christine said...

Beautiful words Carrie. You have brought me to tears streaming down my face. Thanks for sharing, your pics are beautiful.

Judy Pettersen said...

I didn't know that you had a blog, Carrie. I've clicked in to become a follower. Its visually beautiful, well written, and I especially love your descriptions and photos from Saturday's event. Clarence and I sponsored Ken Mansell from the relay. I met Erin at church. She attends our church's Sunday school.
On another note, your children are beautiful. Your photos are so crisp and really add to your blog. Did you customize the blog yourself? I'm not that creative, so mine is just the template. Anyway, great job, Carrie. And thanks for the inspiration. I wouldn't have found this if Ken Mansell hadn't sent it to me.
all the best,
Judy Pettersen