When I was elected senior class president, I didn't realize it would be a lifeandshy;andshy;long responsibility.
As my friend and classmate Chris Mori Fayad, whom I wrote about a few weeks ago, grew weaker in a New York hospital, I felt an urge to tell our classmates. The e-mail addresses I collected for our 40th reunion almost three years ago to the day made it easy for me to send out the word that our dear friend was dying.
The response was exactly what I should have expected from this small group of extraordinary women.
Like 38 candles they burn brightly all across the country. From
Boulder, Colo., Marie wrote that she was diagnosed with breast cancer
just last month but she was summoning all her energy and love for Chris;
from Irving, Texas, Rose tried calling Chris hoping her voice would be a
comfort; Janet also called from San Pedro and left a poignant but
uplifting good-bye message; Anne flew from Sacramento to New York to
stay with Chris in the hospital last week. In San Francisco and Seattle,
prayers were offered up, and here in Crescent City, I stepped up to be
the person who relayed the messages from Chris's family via her blog to
my classmates and from them back to Chris.
On Saturday morning, after a Friday night "celebration" with family,
friends, a folk dancing group and a choir, Chris's husband Vince wrote
from Chris's hospital room: "I spoke with Chris this morning and she was
very 'peaceful.' She wants everyone to know how much she loves them,
but she also wants everyone to 'let her go.' You can come and say,
'good bye.' Do not linger, it is only making itharder for you and
Weeks ago I signed up to participate in my first Relay For Life on
Saturday. Chris was not the only reason I decided to walk this
yearandshy;-there's Becca, Kathy and now Marie from my class and classmate
Jane's husband Peter and Janet's husband Vince all fighting battles
against cancer. And there are my friends the survivors: the two Susans
here in Crescent City as well as Karen and Terri. I wanted to honor them
as well as my mom who died of breast cancer five weeks after being
diagnosed in 1989.
On Thursday I found out my kids were coming for the weekend. It would
have been easy to skip the Relay to spend one of the warmest days of
our summer with them, but instead my son, daughter-in-law and
granddaughter joined me. Rick walked too when he wasn't taking photos.
Just before I left home for the high school, I took a black marker
and wrote on the back of my shirt: "Walking for Chris Mori + MMHS Class
I can't explain the feeling as I walked under blue skies with my
beautiful family while that morning's message from Chris's husband
resonated in my head. I felt so lucky and yet painfully sad as life and
death met on the field.
I will continue to walk for as long as I can, and I encourage you to
join me next year. The only thing that could make our local Relay For
Life better would be more people in attendance, more tents around the
track and more steps toward the cure.
Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate's publisher, at
firstname.lastname@example.org, 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.