Monday, June 30, 2014

I walked the avenue 'til my legs felt like stone. I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone...

We rock(y)!
We didn't quite walk until dawn, but we did walk from 7:30 pm until 3:30 am; I think you'll agree that 16.4 miles is naught to sneeze at.

I left DC at 11:45 on Saturday morning with plenty of time to spare and arrived in Philly 4 hours and 30 minutes later in an absolute swivet. Must get to the team picture on time! Must register! Decorate my luminaria! Must must must! Panic!

Also, whenever I drive I hate people and think they're stupid and annoying and it did occur to me as I was cursing humanity that I was driving up to walk all night to save lives.

Is that ironic, Alanis?

Sooo, I suppose a number of you know that part of 495 around Wilmington just fell off the map?

I vaguely remember seeing something about it, as I was abruptly forced off of 495 and onto some little side roads on the outskirts (or maybe inskirts, I don't know) of Wilmington. My GPS, however, didn't know, and thus kept insisting that I make a U-turn to get back on 495 and what am I an imbecile?

And thus it was that I did the same try-to-use-nonexistent-495 loop TWICE because nothing ever looks familiar to me unless I've driven it 72 times and my GPS, while Australian and charming, is apparently as uninformed as I am.

There was much sweating and swearing and gnashing of teeth in my car.

Anyway, I arrived and lovely Jane and her family helped me and I got it all done and Jane and family fed me lovely things and poured me a glass of red bubbly and drove me to the walk and everything was fine.
All pinkified and ready to walk, on Jane's beautiful little street.
I'd had my shirt sent to her house to make sure I got it in time. Can I tell you how much I love it? I love it. Though I wanted an entirely pink outfit, I decided last minute to forgo the neon pink sneaks because they weren't cushiony enough. And by mile eight, I was so glad I did.
There were roughly 2,000 people young and old, civilian and military.

One of the speakers, a young man, said that his mother had taken her life in March 2009 - just a few months before my dad. And until this spring, his family never told anyone how she died. They were afraid they would be judged. They were afraid she would be.

He said basically that they were afraid people would think that his mother was selfish and weak, when really, the opposite was true. She was loving and strong. She was suffering from depression; she was ill.

His family carried the burden of that secret for five years. I know the crushing weight of family secrets. I can't imagine having to keep that one.

After the opening ceremony, I found my wonderful friend Joy, who I met at last year's event, and actually, hadn't seen in person since. We are Facebook friends, and we exchanged Christmas cards, and she was in my T25 group. She is one of my heart people, so really, she and her partner are stuck with me for life.

Joy shared her group of friends who were also walking, and a solo walker she invited to join us. She has a number of friends in Philly, as does her friend Dianne, who lives there. So we had this awesome  group of humans and dogs meeting us at various points throughout the route.
And about 1:30 am, a family of friends showed up with ice cream treats. Magical.
We had to get a picture with the Hugs Here girl from last year! Apparently she's now a celebrity. Adorable and lovely.
Speaking of love, LOVE Philadelphia! I do. I really do.

It's such interesting, intense experience, to walk forward into the night, into the truly pitch black wee hours, with a large group of strangers with whom you have this incredibly intimate connection. It is comforting and terrible to have the hardest thing in your life in common with so many others.

I carried with me names given to me by friends, and names of people that I know could use my thoughts and my hopes for the best. I don't know if this is helpful, but I believe good intentions and hopefully energy improve the world in some way, great or small.

This year's walk was emotionally easier and physically harder than last. I don't know if it's because I am one year older and all the tired all the time, or if it was because I had the stress of the drive and then the walk. But by mile 16, I was so very happy it was almost done.
I loved my pink outfit more than I can tell you. And an added benefit turned out to be how easy it was to find me in a crowd. We'd separated once we got to the museum, and Joy took this picture of the luminaria. Aaaand there turns out to be a bright pink figure in the heart.
I must admit that I didn't wait to see the dawn, or for the closing ceremony. My friends were going home to sleep, and I myself was painfully exhausted. At 4:00 am, I crawled through Jane's door, and into the bed they'd made for me.

It was a long dark night, made lighter by great company and a sense of purpose.

I'm so grateful to everyone who donated to my walk, and to everyone who encouraged me. I feel lucky. You all have been a tremendous source of support and energy to me through some tough situations and years, and I thank you.

As a friend of Nick's, who donated and gave some details from his own life, said, "The walk out of darkness takes a long time."


  1. Awesome, Lisa. The shirt turned out beautifully. You are beautiful! And I love that last picture so much.

    1. Big hugs to you, Laura. And isn't that last picture so lovely? There's so much beauty and healing and love in it, I think.

  2. As always, I'm so impressed by and proud of you. And, certain that you'd have made the night brighter, pink outfit or no.

    1. Love you, Jessica. Thank you for being my dear friend.

  3. wish i had been at home in philly and not in chicago during the walk! could have cheered you on, too. thanks for sharing this, lisa. xoxo


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