I got the following message sent to me by my cousin yesterday:
“Hey sweets. The Relay for Life committee is wondering if you would light the first luminary in memory of your mom at the Luminary Ceremony. Let me know.”
I nearly broke down into tears as soon as I read the words (which would have been awkward as I was working at the time). I would think the rationale behind it was that my mom passed away very recently, but I don’t really care about the reason. To be asked to light the first luminary (out of hundreds and hundreds) is a tremendous honor, and I’m extremely humbled that they thought of me to do it.
Luminaries are candles that are placed in special bags that bear the names of cancer survivors and loved ones who have lost their battle with cancer. At each Relay For Life event, the luminaries are lit during (what is normally) a very moving ceremony at dusk. A luminary is meant to provide light and inspiration for the participants all night long as they walk around whatever track they are at.
There have been times over the past few months since mom passed away where I really thought I had been able to move on an remember mom in a very positive way. What I’m finding now, especially as Mother’s Day just passed and with her burial tomorrow morning and the Relay in a couple of weeks, is that I’m still struggling with the loss.
I realize that there’s no set path to take. I understand that everybody grieves differently. So I’m doing my best to not beat myself up too much over feeling the way I’m feeling. I’m also doing my best to not allow the sadness to take over and keep me in this funk of mine.
Mom would not want me to think about her this much…she was overly selfless like that. Mom would want me to smile with memories of happier times and do whatever I needed to do in order to enjoy life to the fullest and be the man that I want to be.
So while I sit and reflect on this great honor that the Relay for Life committee has given me, I will also reflect on the great times I shared with mom over the course of my lifetime. I will use those happy memories to help get me out of whatever funk I’m in and back to being myself. I owe it to mom, I owe it to Sunshine, I owe it to my children, I owe it to dad, and I owe it to myself.
I deserve to be happy. And I think this request, in a round-about way, has helped me to remember that.