So, as I’ve said before, my heart wasn’t really in the walk this year. Believe me, I’m not proud to admit it, but it is what it is. All of a sudden losing my mom at the age of 49 didn’t seem like the greatest tragedy anymore.
Sure, I trained, but I think more to get me up and out of the house. It gave me something to focus on other than the tragedy that has become my life. Sure I raised the money (and then some) because we are blessed to have some amazing people in our lives. I couldn’t believe that after all of the support that we received following the accident, people still donated to my 3 Day walk.
So, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t really excited to walk. It felt weird to be there to try to raise money for cancer when someone can die in a car accident just as easily and there’s not a thing that you can do. I was very conflicted this year. How do I honor my mother and grieve my son simultaneously?
Opening Ceremonies hurt. I stood there amongst survivors and those who had lost their mothers just like me and I felt horrible. How can I grieve for a woman who lived 49 years (which now seems long to me, amazing what a little perspective can do), when my son didn’t even get 18 months? How can I even begin to wrap my head around it? I really wanted to leave. I was ready to admit defeat and walk away. It no longer felt like my battle. There was so much sadness and all that I could feel was everything that I had lost.
What kept me there was all of those donations, all of those people that I felt that I had made a promise to. So I walked. Day 1 was rough to say the least. I blame it on the fact that Tara is now 30 and this has caused both of our bodies to age. Truthfully, I think we both had a shit year and probably weren’t ready to deal with the walk not only physically, but mentally, but we forged on.
I didn’t expect Bennett to be there, I should know better by now. I had noticed as we were walking several different banners with sunflowers. I smiled and took it for the sign it was. As we were crossing the street, I went to look closer and stopped dead in my tracks as I noticed the dates on the banner-the day he was born and the day he died. Tara had to yell at me to hurry up and take the picture because the light had changed and I was still in the middle of the intersection gaping at what was in front of me.
Mind blown, once again, but it was yet another sign from the little guy that I was where I was supposed to be. We then passed by the Bennett Arboretum. Sign number 2. Our tent number, just happened to be B-88, there was that number again, this time preceded by the letter B. Never mind all of the coke cans that read ‘Mom’ or the fact that the only song that I heard at the last pit stop on Day 3 was ‘Carry on.’
We walked through crowds of people, all cheering us on. People were on the side of the road handing out tylenol, water, soda, jello shots (!), you name it. They came out in droves to support us walkers. I’ve walked Boston for 9 years and I have never seen anything like the community support that showed up in Michigan (sorry Boston!). The crew was phenomenal and so encouraging. It made those first 22 miles bearable.
When we made it camp that first night I felt relieved. I was beginning to remember the joy that comes out of being involved in an event like the 3 Day. We sat down to dinner and watched the different entertainment that was on the stage. Up walked a woman that was 32 and stage IV – perspective. She was diagnosed at the age of 29 with Metastatic Breast Cancer – perspective. She was emotional, she was scared, she was inspiring. The light bulb dinged and suddenly I remembered why. I remembered that I did this walk to heal from my mother’s death, but it has become so much more to me. I remembered that this wasn’t about me or my son, but something so much bigger (that was a hard pill to swallow, not sure how long it will last). I remembered why I walk, why this is so important to me. I had to look outside my own grief, which wasn’t easy once it’s become a part of your every day life.
Then I looked at my life. What if I had been diagnosed at 29? How would Darcy’s life be? Would there even be a Benny? For the first time in a longtime, I actually felt grateful – perspective. Now I’m not going to tell you that Days 2 & 3 were a breeze, but remembering why I was there, feeling it in my bones that I was 100%, absolutely where I needed to be made it easier to carry on.
It was a good weekend. It was a good reminder to me that there is life outside of my grief. Sometimes we’re just so blinded by it, that we can’t see. It was a glimpse. Now that I am home again and on the other side, it sucks. But I will hold onto everything that that 32 year old woman said to remind me why I walk. In this instance, I was not powerless or helpless. I could fight back, I could walk. I don’t know yet how to ‘fight back’ after what happened with Benny, I’m not sure if I ever will. I think that’s going to be one of my biggest obstacles, feeling powerless. At least for one weekend, I had a little perspective, a little breather from the endless grief. Thank you 3 Day. Thank you mom and Benny for keeping us moving.