The first time my sisters and I relayed was with our 83 year old Dad. It was his second year to Relay, we wore a yellow t-shirt, he wore purple. We learned purple was the privilege of Cancer Survivors.
As I walked around the track with Dad, I began to observe a nod, a knowing glance with others wearing purple…conveying respect, a ‘well done’, a silent acknowledgment of the fight, an empathy for the days that challenge the body, a smile ‘you’ve got this’, a purple community who have lived your experience and know exactly what it’s like. I felt his strength as he walked, his quiet pride. I watched as purple strangers would stop to talk, I felt the deep bond they shared. My heart felt deep pride for him too, in awe of his fighting spirit.
The following year my sisters and I relayed on our own, in his memory. Our grief raw. I knew then what Dad had felt…there were people all around me who know what this felt like. The Candle of Hope was beautiful and yet that was the moment! The music so moving and the spoken words seemed to see into our soul. We were broken! With our arms around each other, the deepest sense of loss washed over us like an avalanche and the tears flowed. We felt hands of comfort and community gently placed on our hunched shoulders. It was a moment of deep shared grief that we needed to journey through together. Relay brought us to that moment.
The next year I came back. I was on my own! While I was on my own I felt the Relay Family around me. The loss still deep…and yet the treasured memories that made me smile had begun to heal the heart. I recognised myself from the previous year in others, those whose recent loss was etched and clear to see. My turn to gently place a hand on a shoulder. I also joined Helen McLean’s Relay Fundraising Team ‘Art with a Heart’ and found the joy and community of being part of her fantastic team. I enjoyed the sunshine, the celebration, the hope, I still shed a few silent tears remembering during the Candle of Hope, but it was a new feeling…he’s still walking with me, I’m going to be alright.
I relay in memory of my Dad. I relay to walk with survivors. I relay to dance with those celebrating. I relay to reach out to those grieving. I relay to raise important funds for research and cancer support. I relay to join this amazing community to channel Hope.