Last night I attended Relay For Life...as I have in the past few years, as we from the OEYC at YMCA Northumberland have been providing children's activities for this amazing event for a number of years now.
I hadn't given much thought to the events the evening brings while always remember the emotional impact of watching so many participating in the Survivors lap, which kicks off the walk around the track in honouring their battle and victories and then everyone joining in to honour them and those who are no longer with us.
Our group prepares craft items for the kids and we also provide face painting for the evening. Face painting is one of my favourite things when it comes to the children's activities. Love to see their faces light up when they see themselves in the mirror.
Mid painting a little boy's face my boss let's me know they are preparing to do the Survivor's Lap and that our co-worker has gone to get me a shirt. Another co-worker says she's there for me. I understand, but it just doesn't seem like they are actually talking to, meaning ME. Then it is time. Some find it too emotional and stay back, watching as the Survivors depart on their walk of honour.
There we are arms linked and among the many, as if celebrities at the Oscars, cheered on and admired, but not for a role portrayed but their own real lives and each of their stories with real life threatening and challenging events in fighting for their lives.
Each year that I have been in attendance I have teared up or cried as all of the survivors names are called out and we stand trackside as they pass by and clap, and can't help but imagine what they have been through. Your heart aches in knowing how their lives must change instantly as they are given their diagnosis.
I don't cry, I don't feel sad, honestly I feel nothing, I am simply numb. It continues to feel very strange, what I might imagine is similar to an out of body experience. This keeps happening.
I am numb because I've never been one of those "Survivors" and how can I be. Emotionally I only feel the caring and closeness of the people I have come with and know no matter what they are here for me, tonight and whenever.