Monday, November 9, 2009

It Only Takes a Spark

I've been reminded of the words the priest spoke about Dan at his funeral lately. For some reason, it was very important to me that the priest come and visit Dan before he passed. I could not have imagined someone saying his funeral mass without really hearing what Dan was about... the words would have been empty to me. The irony of the visit was that the priest was so taken aback upon meeting us that he didn't have much to offer. Obviously, our story was so tragic on first glance. But as the priest spoke to Dan, you could see that he was taken with how hopeful and at peace Dan was despite the fact he was nearing the end of his life.

The priest did not let me down. I thought he described Dan's journey beautifully. He said that when Dan was diagnosed, it was if God led him into a dark tunnel and gave him a single candle. God then sent Dan out into the world, and with that one little candle, lit up the darkness by inspiring and helping others. I think of those words often- sometimes when I see people still wearing a green bracelet or sending me a note or text message because they know that 8 months isn't even the beginning of this journey.

But I have been astounded by those that are coming forward to continue Dan's work. Take Sarah and Dana who raced this summer in the Irongirl (Dana) and the Baltimore Half Marathon (both). They came to me and said they wanted to raise money, and that I didn't have to really do a thing to help them. Sarah hadn't even known Dan all that long. Together, they raised close to $3,000 for NCCF.

And then there is the Persak family, good friends of Dan's since childhood. Last year, Mr. Persak ran a marathon and Dan was pretty impressed. Warren promised Dan he would run another one for Dan and NCCF. And he then enlisted his three children, all very close to Dan- including his best friend Chris- to join him. So they finished the Marine Corps marathon in late October. After the race, I received this summary from Warren. Together, the Persaks raised over $4,000 for NCCF- AMAZING!

30K runners started the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington DC (21K finished) and there were over 100K spectators. We figured we all ran at least an extra mile maneuvering thru the masses during the run. It was tough, 6 of the 1st 7 miles were uphill, but it was loud, and fun and the big crowds and bands playing helped keep you distracted from some from the pain. Kathleen and I ran the 1st 11 miles together (a once in a lifetime memory for us) and then she started feeling the effects of bronchitis she was fighting and had to walk for a time. Chris and Bryan ran it in under 4:15, I finished in 4:44 and Kathleen in 5:20…… If interested, more info is available on the Marine Corp Marathon web site. We all talked after the run and over dinner and it was funny that we all thought of Dan and his struggles multiple times over the 4 plus hours and asked him to help get us thru this run….and we could hear him laughing!

SUMMARY: 4 Persaks running. Miles in training: 1000+, Shoes- 8 pairs (all well worn) - $500, Entry fees - $320, hours in training- lots, sore heels, knees….ect – all (but especially the old guy!), stupid heel arch relief wrap -$20. Helping NCCF help young adults beat cancer – Priceless!

And as I write this, I am working with over 25 people who want to be involved in NCCF's mission. I am reminded of words Dan often spoke- some days, it seems the challenge is too tough, too daunting. We hear about another family member, friend or co-worked who is diagnosed. Many of them survive, but unfortunately many do not. In these tough times, we must remember that life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze us and bring us down. But rather, they are supposed to help us discovery who we are and the changes we can become.

Those of us left behind are surviving this disease, too. But we are also following the light that Dan left us... the hope he gave us in all that darkness. I am reminded of a song we sang in Church when I was growing up- I think it describes some of what we're seeing with so many still passing on Dan's light-

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing;
That's how it is with God's Love,
Once you've experienced it,
Your spread the love to everyone
You want to pass it on.


Obsessedwithlife said...

SO inspiring!

Anonymous said...

"You can blow out a candle, but you can't blow out a fire."

Cicily said...

Meg, thanks so much for reminding us what the priest said at the funeral. I was too upset to remember any of it and appreciate today's blog so much, And yes, the Persaks are truly amazing! thanks so much all the Persak Family!! I am feeling a lot of anxiety these days which I believe is connected to the fact that Dan's body is not here with us this holiday season. I know his spirit is, but my heart still hurts. Am sure yours does too. Thank you so much for keeping up the blog. You are always inspiring. Love, Cicily