Yesterday was the day. Back when we first learned that our little girl might have CF, I had said that we would participate in the Great Strides walk. Back then, I had planned to raise money by harassing neighbours and co-workers and threatening them with a dirty diaper bomb if they didn't donate. I was going to pack her up in the stroller, and we were going to attend. But, back then, I didn't know what was about to happen a few months later. I had no idea that I would be walking without Kherrington.
After Kheri died, I decided that I would participate in the event. I didn't know how far I was willing to take it, so I decided that I would at least raise money. As the pledges came in, and I had to constantly revise my goal, I decided that this was a day that I needed to be a part of. So I got the day off work, collected the last of my donations, picked up my girl Iris, and met Melly on the way, and we headed up to Bath, NB.
After we arrived, one of the organizers was making team banners, when all of the banners were complete, she looked at us and said "We have an extra banner, would you guys like to decorate one, and take it with you as a keepsake?". So Iris and I went to work on our banner. I hadn't registered a "team" because I didn't know who would be able to go, or if I would even be able to actually attend the event when I registered myself. We decorated our banner, and then the banners were all laid out on a table for people to sign.
Then we went outside, where Iris confronted her fear of the balloon clown, and Beary the Customs Bear and we had some more pictures taken. I am very proud of her, for getting as close to the bear as she did. The bear did a wonderful job, and even escorted us on our walk by riding on the back of a pickup truck.
There was an overwhelming number of people at the walk and as the walk started it was bittersweet. It actually had been sprinkling on and off and as we were just starting the walk, Iris said "She's not sure if she wants it to rain, or be sunny". Then about 1/4 of the way through, the sprinkling picked up for about 5 minutes, and Iris said "Well, here she comes!". The sprinkling did stop and everyone seemed to be enjoying the day. There were lots of kids, running and playing. Babies in strollers, brothers and sisters, Moms and Dads, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, friends and family all creating a sea of support as we walked through the streets of Bath.
I have a co-worker, I'll refer to her as "B", who was one of the coordinators for this event. Her son (the inspiration behind the team "Colin's Marchers"), has CF and is a going concern. He plays soccer, hockey and seems to enjoy childhood just like any other child. About half way through the walk, B walked up beside me and said "How are you doing? Isn't it great to see such a huge crowd! What a tidal wave of support we have here". I said "I'm doing alright. It is overwhelming the number of people here. It is great to see that there is this kind of support, but I'm sad at the same time that there are this many people affected by this disease".
When the walk was finished, everyone gathered for a barbecue, and the door prizes/awards presentation. I was very surprised to learn that I was the "Top Walker" for raising the most money as an individual.
I wouldn't have been able to do this without the love and support of family and friends. I am looking forward to next year's walk already. Perhaps there will be a rainbow baby involved? We'll have to see, but I know that Kheri's legacy just keeps growing. I miss her daily, and I believe her spirit is what makes me the "strong person" that everyone says I am. I don't know how "strong" I am. With lots of help, I have managed to try to carry on. I believe we don't know how strong we are, or can be, until we HAVE to be. Kheri is the first thought in my head every morning, and the last vision I have every night. But don't be mistaken, I still fall apart, every time she crosses my heart.