Last weekend I participated in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day 60 Mile Walk for breast cancer. My sister (that my hunky husband's brother gave me) and I had been planning this for months. We'd been training. We'd been plotting. We'd been fundraising. We'd been talkin' it up. We'd been thinking about it and smiling but largely ignoring it owing to the fact that we both have lives that are all-encompassing, comprehensively, extensively, uhh, full beyond measure.
I had an advantage. My children both played soccer at a complex that was composed of five soccer fields and a 1/2 mile track which encircled three of the five.
Susan had an advantage. She did NOT have two children that played soccer or - well, she didn't have two children.
The two of us are of like minds in many respects. We understand if our nights aren't good our days aren't good, we understand our capabilities and our shortcomings, and as a result we elected to spend one of the three nights in Camp (for the experience. Y'know.) and the other two in hotel rooms where we could actually sleep well and arrive at the start line the next morning refreshed and ready. This decision actuated a chain of events that made us "exceptions". Well we knew we were exceptions already. We had to figure out how to get luggage to and from Camp, how to get from Closing Ceremonies back to our vehicle, and a few other such logistics. We managed.
Imminently important was how to get to the Medical Tent each morning in time to have our various hurty parts taped and then get in 'line' for the start so that we had the advantage of at least beginning the day's walk in the first third. We managed. Also important, how to arrive at Camp in the a.m. in time to throw in with the breakfast crew. Bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, jelly, butter, hash browns, cheese danish, fruit, juice, and coffee. Anyone with a brain understands the importance of making it in time to partake. We were, after all, walking 20 miles that day. We managed.
The upshot was that we DID it. We finished. We walked 60 miles for the cure. T-H-E. C-U-R-E. We had raised our money, trained, and we walked it. We started, we finished. It wasn't easy. At times it wasn't even fun. But. At other times it was. Fun. Fulfilling. Exhilarating. Emotional. Passionate. Climactic. Adrenaline charged. Emotion packed. Exhausting. Painful.
At the Opening Ceremonies we got to place a pink circle on the Memorial Wall. That one that says "For Diane" is mine.
And as much of a cliche as it is, here's what went through my peabrain. If Diane can receive the news that she has cancer, engage in the chemo/radiation fight and maintain a positive attitude, live (and I do really mean live) through years of remission, and then receive the bad news again and start all over with chemo/radiation, then guess what. I CAN walk 60 miles in three days. I can do that. No matter that my shins splinted and my I.T. band was pulled, no matter Susan had a hamstring pull and painful blisters. Somehow we understood that our issues were minor - even though they felt major. No. Not major. Epic. Deadly. Dramatic. B-I-G time.
Cauz know what? Diane managed. She managed. She managed with beautiful graciousness and gentility. She managed through her faith and her relationship with God.
Diane managed. She manages today. She has an invasive functioning illness/ailment and she could beat any of us out when it comes to attitude, cheerfulness, or faith. She has the best friend in the world. That would be my mother.
I'd walk another 60 mile walk for her. I wouldn't like it. But I'd do it. Throughout the 3 days, there was one thing Susan and I kept repeating to each other. "It's about the journey. It's about the journey. It's about the journey."
It meant so many things. When we wanted to pass everyone because they were pokey or annoying. When we wanted to sock someone in the face because they were selfish or thoughtless. When we wanted to hail the Sweep Van and just go back to camp and chill, have our muscles rubbed and wrapped. But the journey WAS what it was about. For every day I'm separated from the event for yet another day, I understand the journey a little better. I can pray that my shins will heal quicker. I can respond to questions with "Oh yes, I'd do it again." I can proudly announce, "We raised SIX AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS." But in the end, even though I'm profoundly and permanently affected by the experience, I still don't have a clue. Not a clue what it's like to live with cancer. And I'm thankful, for that and for the conviction to do The Walk and to understand the blessings of my life and my family. For a sister to walk with. For a family to return to. For a Godly mother with a Godly best friend. And for a loving God that wraps me in His arms even when my biggest problem is my shins.