Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Leukemia walk: 10 years later

Ten years ago, I started participating in the Light the Night Walk to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 

I tried to find a blog post from that time, but I remembered that although I fundraised in 2006, I wasn't able to actually walk that year because I got the flu. However, I did find this: a post from when my dad's leukemia relapsed. 

Two things stick out to me about that entry. First, I love Dad's quote about chemo: "I feel like someone's poisoning me on purpose!" (Yes, Dad, you continue to make me laugh beyond the grave.) 

Second, you'll notice that I posted Dad's address so people could write to him. One of the first things that really got to me after Dad died was that I couldn't call the hospital room anymore, I couldn't send letters. He wasn't there.

Losing a deeply loved person - a spouse, a parent, a child, a friend - is more than just their death, but it is also your own. It is the death of the life you thought you would have. It is the death of a belief that everything will work out fine if you just eat your vegetables and do the right thing. It is the death of god.

In the wise, recent words of Sheryl Sandberg after she lost her husband: "Those who have said, 'You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good' comfort me more because they know and speak the truth."

In time, though, you do find a new normal, and you find gratitude and a new kind of happiness. I am extraordinarily lucky to have friends and family who remind me how to laugh.

So this weekend, I was thrilled to be walking and fundraising with supportive friends that have really been there for me in the three years since I lost Dad. And we raised a lot of money.

This little powerhouse of four ladies (plus Dave, who was not at the walk this year) raised almost $4,000 to fight leukemia and support blood cancer patients. And I was thrilled to discover that since I began walking in 2006, my team and I have raised almost $20,000. That is a staggering sum raised from some very generous individuals throughout the years.

Going to the walk is also good for me because it reminds me that others have lost what I have lost, and we are all trying to find a cure in honor of absent loved ones. It is a beautiful night, and a beautiful thing.

Mostly I try to keep this blog a happy place and to post lots of yarn stuff. My life updates tend to be migrated into Facebook, or increasingly to be shared personally with only a few. However, I wanted to mark this occasion, partly to preserve my future memory of just how awesome we are and partly to spew out some of the thoughts I've been having in light of my family's longstanding battle with leukemia.

The Light the Night Walk reminds me that even though something can happen that is devastating, life-changing, and horrific, we can keep a light on against the darkness.

Here's to next year.

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