Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Day at the Track...sans Horses

Yesterday was the American Cancer Society's relay for life in Freehold, NJ. Maggie (cute one on the right)was going with the office staff as part of team Weichert. She asked me if I wanted to go, saying she'd understand if I thought it would too hard this soon after losing Jen. I debated for a moment and decided I should.

We loaded up and went to the local horsetrack where the event was being held and when we came in, we saw a tent with a purple banner that said "Survivors". Maggie went over and registered, herself being a 30 year survivor of Hodgkin's Disease. We met up with some of her coworkers and some folks from other offices. We chatted for a bit and then went to the dining tent for the 'Survivors Lunch'. The spread was really nice and the food was pretty freakin' good. After lunch, a local ROTC group gathered at the end of the tent and brought the Survivors to a seating area in front of the stage. The ceremony for the Survivors was really great. I was weepy at points, thinking of Jen, and my Dad and my Friend Marc. All cancer victims. The announcer, from the local rock station, read the list of names, announcing which type of cancer they had survived and the number of years cancer-free. Sooo many folks old and young made up this group. It was amazing, honestly. So many survivors...

When Maggie's name was called and they announced "..a 30 year survivor!" , the crowd gave her a really nice ovation. Kieth Richards would have been jealous of this ovation. (Of course he would have forgotten it in a mere four seconds, saying "whaa..?")But I digress... The announcer even put a nice emphasis on the word thirty. "THIR-Tee..." Showing his was impressed and letting all present know that my girl is one tough cookie.

During the ceremony Survivors were awarded medals and they were then lead to the track to take the ceremonial first lap. After the first lap everyone else could take the track and do their laps.

The track is 1 1/4 miles long and there is even a guy who shows up every year who walks the track from the opening lap to the final lap of the night when the lights above the track are extinguished. I did 5 laps for Jen. I wanted to do more but I was starting to get a bit tired and the sun was really baking my little melon. Next year I plan to bulk up and do 33 laps. One for every year Jen was when she died. I told Maggie I might even bring a tent and sleeping bag, because, honestly, I don't know how long this will take me.

AT ten pm they had the 'Luminary Ceremony'. The luminary is a white bag with the Cancer Society logo on it that you can decorate for a loved one and they place little votives in the bags and the bags are lined up along the track. It was very moving. I'm sure Jen would have loved it.

All of the tracks lights but one was turned off and we all did a final lap around the track, checking out every ones different bags.

It was a long day, but I will do it again next year and for as many years as I can.

Hopefully someday a cure will be found. I hope and pray it is...

1 comment:

Nelle said...

I'll never forget the day of the communion when you brought Jen home and she was so tired and told me what a wonderful big brother she had. She was so right. :)