The Relay starts with a survivors lap and ends with all the survivors releasing balloons. It is a emotional event as you watch all the balloons float away, knowing each one represents a survivor, but at the same time you see the track lined with luminaries of those who did not survive.
The atmosphere is very festive at the relay, there are food booths, singers and play areas for kids. But amongst all the festivities are those who are or have dealt with cancer. For Andrea and I it was a time of joy and sadness. Joy that Andrea is here for another relay. Sadness that we are brought face to face with cancer. Walking the track lined with luminaries labeled in "honor of" for those living and 'in memory of" for those who did not survive makes you see the physical reality and the seriousness of cancer. It is a time of conflicting emotions and many questions we can not answer.
After about one hour we had quite a downpour, over one inch of rain in about 30-45 minutes. Unfortunately all the luminaries were soaked. Lighting them seemed impossible as some sat in puddles and all were laying flat from the soaking. Andrea and I made attempts to stand her bags back up but they were too heavy from the water. We were about to give up when I looked up and saw our were friends helping us. Hal, Al, Karen, David, Danny, Gina, Diane, and Ruth and her kids. They all began standing up the bags and soon all 70 luminaries were ready to light. Other than us and 2-3 other groups everyone had abandoned the idea of lighting the luminaries that lined the track.
Soon we had one lit and we used the flame of the lit candle to light all 70 of Andrea's luminaries. Together we had done it! Soon others around us began to do the same and there were more and more lit.
Later as I reflected on that I thought, "That is just how this journey has been."
There was a storm.
It seemed hopeless.
Andrea and I could not do it alone.
Friends came to help us.
Together we shared the burden.
In the end we were strengthened and hope spread to others around us.
This morning Andrea and I got up at 5:30 am to walk the track at sunrise. When we arrived we found all seventy of Andrea's luminaries still burning. It was a perfect morning, clear skies and cool temperatures. The storm had passed and we walked the track and read our favorite scriptures; Psalm 91 and 116. We thanked God for the new day and new life. It was the perfect morning of the perfect day. It was the day after.