Last year, this same weekend, I took the kids and the older two boys and myself participated in the Warrior Dash. 87 degree heat, nothing but hills, mud, obstacles and even a pit of fire over a 3.1 mile course. I do not like beer, and yet the cold one offered to me after completing the event was very welcome.

Last year at this time was also the Relay for Life event held at the local high school. Relay for Life is an American Cancer Society fundraiser. One is part of a group of people that raise money and take turns keeping people walking and on the track for at least 24 hours. There are special ceremonies honoring those fighting cancer and those who have lost their life to cancer, there are special recognition for the caregivers, and beads given to the participants for each and every lap they take on the track. There are also different booths with to buy treats and play games, and lots of live music or DJ’s music to keep the energy at a party level.

I have taken part in the Relay for Life in many forms over the years. I have been on a team, I have been part of the prayer committee during the remembrance and luminary ceremonies, I have taken photos, and while Dean was sick we participated and he slowly walked the survivors lap. That year Lloyd brought home a tremendous line of beads on a ribbon and presented it to Dean after the event was completed. That ribbon of beads still hangs in the living room. I also stayed late that year and took some photos of the luminary service, bags of light with those to be prayed for both fighting and passed.

Last year, I did the Warrior Dash. I did not even want to be in town during Relay for Life weekend. I didn’t want to be reminded. I didn’t want to be around people that were so happy about doing something for someone else. I did not want to be around people who were cutting their hair to make wigs, speeches about survival and I especially did not want to be around the luminary ceremony with a candle lit reminding me of who was not there. My one son traveled back from the Warrior Dash, did not stay in the hotel with the rest of us, so that he could play in the Jazz band during the Relay. I remember talking to him and telling him I could not/would not even go to hear him play. I just did not want to be there.

We went this year. I took some money so the kids could spend at the various booths to help the cause. They played with friends, made a few new friends and reminded Lloyd how cool older brothers are when they followed him into an extreme Frisbee game and was not chased away and were allowed to run and play with the big boys. I took a lap around the track. I remembered the lap I took with Dean. I remember how long it took and how proud of himself he was for completing the lap. I remember coloring a bag for the luminary with the kids, and taking a photo of it on the track. I stayed to myself a lot as the kids played. Just soaked it in. I watched as teenagers took turns having their hair cut for wigs to help people not feel so naked while undergoing treatment, I felt the party atmosphere of so many people trying to so something positive in the face of a disease that robs so much from so many.

Last year I needed to do the Warrior Dash for me. I needed to somehow prove to myself that I was strong enough and capable enough to handle anything. I think I proved that more to myself this year by taking the kids to an event I couldn’t even face going to one year ago and explaining to them that it was all for to help people like their daddy and watch them have fun with those who were trying to make sure there may be a time that other kids were not robbed of their daddy by the same disease.

Relay For Life