Vigil for a Cure 

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. 

I came out to work toward a cure and found a different kind of healing. 

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. 


About sherijkennedyriverside

Left brain, right brain, I can't decide. After many years of successful visual arts pursuits, I'm working on my other creative inclinations. For the past 8 years, writing has been my second full time job, and it's worth every sleepless night. Sheri J. Kennedy grew up mostly a city-girl coasthopping from Seattle to rural Pennsylvania, Miami and back to Seattle. She currently resides on the banks of the Snoqualmie River in the scenic Cascade Mountains. Her heart has found its home.
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17 Responses to Vigil for a Cure 

  1. winneyb says:

    Your regret turned into beauty- because of the luminosity inside you!


  2. Such a beautiful post Sheri! I am so glad you have found a little peace. Cancer is such a vicious disease and so indiscriminate.


    • Yes, I’ve done pretty well with my grief over the years, but it you never really get over losing your mother. Facing talk about the disease itself, even in a positive, hopeful manner, has been my one sticking point because it takes me back to memories of the illness itself. What I gained in this event is some power to feel a fight against the cruelty of it instead of feeling defeated. My mom’s body didn’t triumph over it, but her spirit and soul certainly did. I can remember now to hold on to that when helping others I know who are affected by it, I believe. Thanks for your response, Clare. Your compassion means much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do understand. My father died of lung cancer 6 years ago on 23 August and the remorselessness of the disease I found quite shocking. He insisted on dying at home and the exhaustion that decision caused my mother I will never forget. We were glad that he had his wish but the loneliness and helplessness of the carers (my mother, me and my sister when she could get time off work) was something I will never forget. We only got nursing help for the last two nights of his life. It is not a time I can think of without feelings of great discomfort and even resentment, though what against I am not sure.


        • I lost my father to pulmonary fibrosis which has some of the symptoms of lung cancer. It was tough to watch my very active father slow down, but I felt blessed to know that his time was winding down over a fairly prolonged period because it gave us time to set things in order and do some of the grieving together. I was very blessed to have a woman enter his life in his last couple years who loved him and he remarried. She and her daughters dealt with almost all of his care toward the end, and mostly he was just less mobile and weaker. He also insisted on doing as much as he could all the way to the end. I never heard him complain, even once. I miss him terribly, but feel fortunate that overall it was an accepted and gracious passing for us all. For some reason it didn’t feel so vicious, as you put it, as cancer. Cancer makes one feel robbed somehow, and the suffering brings up anger. I also think some forms of cancer make the family feel some blame and resentment toward the one that’s ill since there are some known behaviors that raise risk factors. It’s hard to juggle all those feelings when you also feel grief and loss.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, that is so true.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I can relate to all of those emotions that you describe, and I’m sorry you had to go through them. I was far enough from home to only be there some of the time as my mother worsened, but my memories of feeding her are some of the most heartbreaking of my life, even though her attitude was strong and gracious. No matter the situation of why someone is ill, it’s hard to witness it, and it’s very hard to be a caretaker. I have such respect for and applaud those that do it for a profession. I’m glad that I’m in a space now to contribute toward finding a cure for cancer…for everyone’s sake.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sheri, truly beautiful! And so meaningful and helpful. You are so good at putting emotions into words that bring emotions out of the reader. A beautiful experience thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Deepak Singh says:

    Fantastic post with Beautiful pics!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jrusoloward says:

    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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