We spent last Saturday night at our area’s annual Relay For Life event. Tessa was one of this year’s honorary co-chairs, along with Carmen who is an amazing woman. Literally, you can’t help but feel happy when by her. And her speech was simply incredible.
I shared Tessa’s story in the most honest and heart-felt way I could. And while I could not fight the tears that night, I felt proud and relieved to talk about it all–even the really sucky parts. On this blog, I share so openly the events of our lives. This site is my vessel and my voice; however in real life, I tend to be more reserved. I don’t often talk about our struggles, triumphs, celebrations or hardships person-to-person. It isn’t always easy for me. I always feel like it may be hard to understand it all–the roller coaster ride that we are on.
Tessa joined me at the microphone right away. She greeted the large crowd with, “Hiiii,” and then a very sweet and sincere, “Thank you!” That was enough attention for her as she whisked herself back into her daddy’s arms.
I delivered my speech, quite tearfully, hoping that I conveyed a message of hope through my daughter. Because that is what I see in her.
And that is exactly what I feel from her.
We walked the survivors lap at Tessa’s pace, which was far behind the others. But she giggled and skipped the whole time. At some point, she held hands with a fellow survivor. All Tessa kept saying to her was, “Thank you grandma.” Dan, myself and the very sweet lady erupted in laughter. (Kicking myself for not getting her name.)
At the end of the night, I sat with Dan outside of our camper and watched the luminaries dimly flicker in the dark. They lined both sides of the long walking trail. I don’t know how many there were. Too many. They were beautiful, though. Each had a story and a purpose.
It is hard to describe how amazing the Relay was. It was inspiring and very emotional. We were surrounded by people who were all affected by cancer. At times, I could feel the heartache. But I also witnessed so much love. We gathered for camaraderie to celebrate victories of many kinds, to remember and to continue to fight. Next year, we will do the same.
My heart is bursting with gratitude, and I am grateful for those who work so hard to make nights like this possible. Thank you to the American Cancer Society and the Lafayette County Relay For Life for taking the time to honor those diagnosed with cancer.
Tessa walked her second survivors lap just days after being one year cancer free. This picture sums it all up.