I cried today. I cried that uncontrollable cry...that kind where no noise escapes your lips...but the tears fall from your eyes without stopping. I was surrounded by hundreds of people. I sat on a picnic table bench and I cried. I was embarassed and wiped furiously at my eyes. I felt stupid for crying. I felt like I was being ridiculous...I felt weak.
We had just completed our fifth time walking in the TELUS JDRF Walk for a Cure. Five times we have done this. Five times we have participated in this event. It was a full circle moment for me to even be there because it was held at the exact same location as the first walk we ever took part in. Five years have passed and as I walked along the route, it gave me time to reflect on how much life we have lived in the past five years. I saw a little girl walking beside us...holding her Mom's hand and I was transported back to our first time. I could feel Emma's little four year old hand in mine. I could feel my chest tighten as I remembered that day and how much it moved me to be with the other people walking...how much it meant to me to be with them...to walk with them...to fight this disease with them. I looked over at my extra sweet girl and blinked back the tears as I saw her now 9 years old...walking with a friend from school that came along to show her support. I saw Emma laughing with her...smiling...walking along the path...so grown...so much life has been lived in these past five years.
I saw other people's eyes...some had that look of experience and exhaustion. Others had that all too familiar look of new....sadness...worry...fear of the unknown that becomes commonplace in this life. I walked along and I felt it...I felt the connection and the fight. Young and old, new and experienced, parent and child, grandparent, friend, neighbour, volunteer.....we all walk. We all walk together towards that proverbial finish line and one day our steps will take us across the real finish line.
I took the same "finish line" picture with my girl that we always take. I got her some lunch and sat down on the bench. When Emma and her friend were finished eating, they went off to check out some of the booths and games set up. After a few minutes, they returned and Emma's friend handed me $20. She said, "this is for a cure for Emma." Then she told me that she had written on a sign "I wish for a cure for my friend." The girls smiled and ran off giggling back to the games area. I sat there grasping the $20 in my hand and the tears began to fall. I couldn't help it. This little girl touched my heart. She came out to support her friend and she's only 8 years old. There is something incredibly awe inspiring and unique about the way kids are. They don't look at things the same way that adults do. Somewhere along the line in growing up, a lot of us lose that...and it makes me sad. But kids, ahhh kids look at things for what they are. They have a friend...they love them. They have a friend with a disease that they don't quite understand fully...but they know that it involves needles and blood and sometimes having to take a break...and having to push buttons on her pump everytime she eats. They have a friend like this and it doesn't matter...it doesn't change their feelings about this friend. It is what it is. They accept it and they don't let it change how they feel. I love that.
So, there I sat....tears pouring down my face...embarassed at my inability to "keep it together" and up walks a friend of mine. She asked how I was and put her arm around my shoulder. When I explained about Emma's friend and her kind gesture, my friend got tears in her eyes...she got it...she understood...she felt it too...she felt exactly what I was feeling in that moment in time...and she handed me a Kleenex.
THAT is what this day was about for me. This fifth time walking was about friends. Friends who are there for you no matter what...friends who love you and support you no matter what...friends who get you...friends who really truly get you and will take that second to put their arm around you and look at you with tears of understanding in their own eyes.
Friends. That's what this day was about for me.