I knew what to expect but it still grabs my heart and squeezes until tears release the pressure. The Relay for Life of Anacortes, WA was held last weekend and Dianne and I were there to support Jim McNally and his Wrestlers for Life team See a short video feature on the team here. Previous experience with the Sherwood OR Relay for Life taught me that we’d run the full course of emotions over a few hours time. We did.
For me, the Luminaria Ceremony is one of the most moving parts of the Relay. For those who have not participated in a Relay for Life, the picture above shows a track lined with bags and lit by a candle inside. Every bag represents a person. Each bag is a celebration of survival or a remembrance. I didn’t count the bags but I can tell you that the lighting of candles, the playing of bagpipes, the carefully chosen words that introduce the Luminaria Ceremony and the people walking the track to pay respect causes a huge reaction in my heart and mind. I watched people stop to take pictures of specific luminaria, hug friends or relatives and move on. Little kids in wagons. Older folks. Youths that could have been absent. All age classes were represented. Every emotion was displayed.
Dianne knows that I’m frustrated by the overwhelming “bad news” content of our TV news and newspapers. We hear so much negativity and I absorb it even though I try not to. Events like the Relay for Life reinvigorate me and remind me that people are truly caring, generous and enjoyable creatures… not the monsters we are forced to hear about each day. I found myself focusing the camera and my attention on the really little kids at the Anacortes Relay. Two of them stand out for me.
I love these pictures and appreciate that there are many stories related to cancer contained in them. These people represent the heart of the Relay and the fight for a cure for cancer. I don’t know their stories but I do know that they were there because they care. They have been touched by the disease in very personal ways. But look at the images… please. Two proud grandparents with smiles that express the joy they have to present their grandchildren to me… a total stranger. Wonderful faces. And two small kids, trusting their grandparents but a bit bewildered by the whole thing and the goofy guy with the camera. I love these pictures because I feel a real sense of hope when I look at them. I see good people doing something to help in a cause that will bring their grandkids a chance to live at a time when cancer is a memory or at least in retreat. I have a collection of images from this relay that show me how wonderful people can be and that fills me with hope. It was an honor to be among them.