Each year, thousands of runners come together to raise money for St Jude. Some run all the way from Memphis to the Midwest Affiliate, here in Peoria, Illinois. Others, like the girls and I, run from our own communities to Peoria. We ask people to sponsor us as we run and together. Millions of dollars are raised for St Jude children. This year was an especially heroic year as temperatures across the nation soared into the triple digits, making hydration and safety a very real concern.
For myself, the day started out with uncertainty as I awoke to what felt like early signs of a bladder infection. I wrote it off as perhaps nerves and not too big a deal until after our first running segment, when there was no denying it. I had a wicked, full blown bladder infection. I became uncomfortable to the point of needing to sit on the bus for two of the segments. But after a few phone calls to my doctor and pharmacy and thanks to parents who are always there when we need them, I was soon equipped with medication. After chugging 24 ounces of cranberry juice and two bottles of water, with the help of the meds, I was ready to run again but with considerable more caution then usual. I was fully aware that dehydration would be the worst thing I could subject my bladder to.
As the evening wrapped up and we finally entered an air conditioned building, my eyes, for a brief instant, made contact with those of a mother, whom I know watched her son die of cancer. Nicholaus was Jamee's kindergarten classmate and should be 19 years old today. I merely smiled at Yvonne as I passed by her but in my heart I felt an aching stab that comes from knowing that her pain, even after 14 years, is great. I don't pretend to know what it was like for her to watch her child struggle and suffer and leave her. I know that she, in turn, would never pretend to know what it is like to find my child in a pool of blue water, to fight with everything in me to save her, and to know that she had left us. But we both know what it is like to hold a lifeless little body in our arms, to watch them be lowered into the ground and to wake up every morning, for the rest of our lives, without them. I know that she knows that the pain never ends, that it goes on and on, raw and unrelenting. I know that she despises the word "cancer" in the same way that I despise any form of the word "drown." We both know also that we go on and that we live and love and we find joy and contentment but time does not heal all wounds.
As we prepared to start our run, our youth pastor was there to send us off with a few words and a prayer. Pastor Doug is familiar with the cancer battle as his daughter, Jada, is now in remission. He spoke of healing and hope and how they, in a sense, go together. I thought of his words at different times throughout the day. As we entered the large room filled with people last evening, I studied the poster sized pictures of St Jude children. These children had shining heads that spoke of illness and large, shining eyes that spoke of courage and hope. These children do have hope but sometimes we have to stretch our minds to see it. As little children, they have hope of healing, whether on earth or in heaven. As for the parents who are left behind, well, there is hope of seeing them again but there are some things that just cannot be healed on this earth.....the death of a child is one of them. We know long suffering, perseverance, endurance, and even hope..... but not healing.
The 2012 Tremont to Peoria St Jude Team