Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Story of Someone 8/23

Last year on the 2014 Susan G. Komen Twin Cities 3-Day, I was approached by a woman on day two. She asked if we could make an announcement for Anna, who was celebrating her 21st birthday, at that night's camp show. The woman (I forget her name) explained that Anna's mother, Laurie, was a long-time 3-Day walker who was in the end stages of cancer. Of course I passed the message along and that night a tent full of 3-Day walkers kindly helped Anna celebrate turning 21.

A few days later, while looking through photos on Instagram, I stumbled upon Anna's IG feed where I left a comment letting Anna know how happy I was to have met her and to have learned about her mother and their story. Anna replied "My mom passed away tonight about an hour after Carley and I got home from closing ceremonies. Please keep my family in your prayers."

I've been involved with the 3-Day in one way or another since 1999. I've come into contact with a lot of people. And I've heard a lot of stories. But there's been something about meeting Anna and learning the story surrounding her mother's death that has moved me profoundly. I believe strongly that people who are actively dying hold on for a variety of reasons. And that Anna's mother held on until her daughters returned home from the 3-Day is so...powerful and emotional. It's become an anchor for me in my own 3-Day story, reminding me how important the work I (get to) do is. And I have kept Anna and her family in my thoughts and prayers over the past year.

On Friday morning, day one of the Twin Cities 3-Day, as I was cheering the walkers out onto the route, Anna and I spotted each other among the crowd of walkers getting their 3-Day journey started. I ran up and gave her a great big hug, crying, and trying to convey with nothing but my tight hug and fresh tears how sad I was that she was now walking in memory of her mother. And yet I was comforted by seeing Anna there and knowing that she and her sisters were continuing to participate in the 3-Day. While it was a sad reunion, I hoped that the weekend was going to be healing and helpful in a way that only being surrounded by the kindness of the 3-Day community can be. Fast forward to Sunday and without any effort on my part, at the end of the day, I found Anna and her sisters right at the very front of the pack of walkers as they came into the closing ceremony.

This photo is of Anna (on the right) and her sisters. I can't imagine all the thoughts that must have been going through their heads and hearts. At this very same time last year, their mother was alive and all three girls were unknowingly going home just in time to hold their mother's hand as she slipped away.

Among the sadness and the unfairness of their loss, they still show up. And fight. And carry their mother's memory forward. And we're all better for it.

I genuinely feel lucky to work on the 3-Day. And to get to meet the people we do and honor their stories is such a privilege. And to feel that way after...13 years of working on this project is truly a gift. Thank you, Anna, for being one of those biggest gifts.

Check out Cyrena and Sarah's photos (coming soon).


Unknown August 31, 2015 at 3:44 PM  

That made me cry. It is hard to explain losing a mother. Never easy. BUT the greatest gift my mom ever gave me was seeing her pass. Prayers for all.

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