Next door
There’s an old man
Who lived to his nineties
And one day
Passed away
In his sleep
And his wife, she stayed
For a couple of days
And passed away

I’m running in my first ever 5k race this coming Sunday in the Philadelphia Brain Tumor Foundation Race. I’m extremely excited to do it, and wanted to put as much into it as possible. On top of raising a ton of money (our nine member team has raised over $2,000!) I decided to spend the day volunteering at the registration coordination.

I got there at about 8 this morning and was expecting to put in a full day of work. I immediately introduced myself to everyone there and got set on unloading the 40 some boxes of t-shirts. The head supervisor eventually put me in charge of that organization and she laughed when- by one in the afternoon- we had all the t-shirts folded into neat piles, placed in order of size and meaning, and then labeled as such. We actually had volunteers sitting around with nothing to do, something she said they haven’t ever faced.

I eventually became her “second-in-command” (her words) and started taking over all of the lists, greeting the groups that came in and taking them through the registration process. It was surprisingly complex, but we had people out within five minutes. We were efficient, thorough, but most of all we were having an awesome time.

At one point though I walked with an older gentleman outside to organize the t-shirts for his team. Everyone, and I mean everyone had a story about the person that they had lost. This man was hardly any different. I asked him if he would like the “In memory of” or the “In celebration of” bibs to put on their team shirts. He looked up at me with new tears in his eyes and said that he would be needing the memory ones. He told me that his wife had died two years ago, and then he grabbed my hand, asked me if I had ever lost the only thing I loved in my life. And then there I was, hugging a stranger out on the balcony overlooking the river. I can’t even imagine that level of loss.

There was a woman volunteering with us who had one of those hip-holders for her cell phone. I usually hate those things, but realized that she needed to have her cell phone at her side at all times. She received a call early on, and then rushed out. Her friend explained that the woman’s five year old granddaughter was in the hospital with a brain tumor, that it wouldn’t be much longer. That they had been fighting with insurance for the past few months to pay for a stem cell transplant.

I spoke with another man, who must have been stunningly brilliant before his tumor. His hair hadn’t grown in over his scar yet, jagged across the back of his skull. He is in a director position of a huge firm in my field located in Philadelphia. I shook his hand before he left, promised to find him on Sunday.

When I signed up for this team two months ago ( which by the way is in memory of my good friend’s cousin), I jokingly told a friend “wish me luck!” I can’t imagine saying that now. For Sunday, wish them luck. That the race raises hope and money to help as many people as it can, that it raises peace for those it can’t.

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