Last night was the special Light the Night Walk. Annie’s Anemic Leukemics were 20 strong, with many other virtual supporters there in spirit. I only cried 4 times, excluding the many times I choked up seeing a little tyke with leukemia.
Participants sported three different coloured lanterns: gold for those walking in memory of someone; red for those walking in support of a survivor; and white for survivors. (I’d say the white complemented my anemic complexion.) As a white lanterned gal, I feel like a guest of honour at this event, standing amidst so many others who are fighting a similar fight. (Despite my steadfast anonymity, I’ve now given you a 50/50 chance of determining who I am in the picture above.)
The tears started before we even got out of the gate as my amazing team assembled for a picture, all adorned in the ridiculous clown attire J. had selected to distinguish us. At that moment, I was overwhelmed by the incredible community of support I had around me.
We white lanterners were called on stage at one point during the pre-walk inspirational speeches. People moved aside, like the parting of the Red Sea, to allow us to approach the stage. Being surrounded by fellow survivors looking out onto a crowd of supporters was incredible. Of course I had to cry then, a reaction which may have seemed incongruent with my clown attire.
But, ever the clown (child?) I am, as we were leaving, I faced the men around me and said: “Why do you guys always leave it to the women to do the crying?” A kind fellow nearby smiled and responded: “Oh, I was crying a minute ago too.” Then he gave me a side hug (which, by the way, is nothing like a Trump hug), and we went our separate ways. Thank you, Mr. Cancerous, for that moment of connection.
Then we walked on that beautiful night, with a steady stream of multicoloured lanterns ahead and behind us. The darker it got, the more spectacular the sight. Three kilometres later, we approached our starting point.
As a white lanterner, each year I have received a white rose as I’ve neared the finish, usually by a kind volunteer. This year they upped their game: a bevy of firefighters were there to distribute those roses. I squealed with delight at the sight of all those handsome men in uniform (no women, sadly), like any 5-year-old child would, and accepted my rose with gratitude and awe. A few tears snuck out when the one who gave me my rose said: “Keep up the good fight.” You would have cried too, trust me.
Oh, maybe I had a fifth occasion for tears, but it was earlier today at Jelly’s PALS behavioural assessment. I may be mistaken, but I believe Jelly passed all of the challenging stations, including the one that involved treats strewn on the ground. (Thank goodness there weren’t any counters.) Jelly was a star and, at the end, she received her official PALS bandana. I couldn’t be prouder of my little girl. Watch for us soon at a hospital or retirement home near you.