Thursday, August 05, 2010

You can't roller skate in a buffalo herd

I'm leaving my family for four days, and as I'm walking out the door, 3B is sobbing in his bed, still asleep, wrapped up in night terrors. Mama is in there, lying next to him, but it still takes all of the strength I have to not go in and lie alongside him...or to not weep as I walk down the hall to the elevator.

At times like this, all that pablum about carrying loved ones in my heart is as useful as a paper cocktail umbrella in a hurricane.

I'm a literal guy, so unless I can see them, hear them, smell them (yes, even the poopy smells), kiss their little bellies, or spread my hands across their warm backs, I am lost. Not lost like I made a wrong turn or two and the GPS will recalculate and get me there five minutes late, but lost like Moses leaving Egypt, thinking the Red Sea thing was pretty cool and then...hey...waitaminnit, didn't we pass that tumbleweed yesterday? Or thirty years ago?

But while I can't have Mama and the kids with me, I will have with me other family and friends. In fact, on Sunday, they'll be wrapped around me as I ride, reminding me why I sweat and ache and strain, reminding me that my suffering pales in comparison to what they've been through.

Mothers, daughters, granddaughters, grandfather, sister in law, aunt, niece, nephew, brother, Dad, son, uncle, father, brother...they all have many labels and names, but they all share one history. They've all been touched by cancer. In some cases, directly, in other cases through those who they love, live with, share blood with. It's been difficult, sad, and for those who survived, life-changing.

And in some cases, it's been fuzzy.

And all of them have helped me along on my journey. It's not been easy, going out with nobody but my bike for company for four, five, six, even eight hours at a time. That comes to an end this weekend, when I'll ride with 5,000 of my closest friends across Massachusetts, but I will only be able to do that because I've had all of you along for the ride during all those lonely training rides at five in the morning--and yes, one at three in the morning.

Together, we will make cancer history. No, cancer isn't going away quickly--certainly not this weekend, and probably not even next year, but day by day, dollar by dollar, we're able to chip away at it, and eventually we will overcome it.

We will overcome because we won't stop working. We will do it together. We will do it for as long as it takes. We will do it for those who went before us and can no longer be with us.

No matter how lonely it may seem, we take this journey together. I know that I could not have succeeded without all of you, and I pledge my support to you in your journey, wherever it takes you, and I wish you all the best. In the well-worn words of this blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

But remember, wherever the wind is coming from, you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd.

I'm working to make cancer history. Will you help me?

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