This past weekend I helped set up, tear down and walk laps at Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. Being the swell and, arguably, crazy person I am, I agreed to walk the 3-5 am shift.
What started out as a lonely vigil became a meaningful experience. I had avoided this large event in my small community for several years, not wanting to be reminded of losing my mom to melanoma many years ago.
But I went alone to face my grief in the wee hours of the morning. As I walked in the dark, the luminaries burning in memory of those lost, those fighting and those who have survived, brought me tears and then light. Then I began to feel strong and I no longer felt alone. The small lantern I carried became a luminaire for my mom. I could feel her there beside me.
About that time my good friend who organized our fundraising team woke up and walked with me at daybreak and we shared free donuts and coffee, and the joy and beauty of the light growing into a new day.