It was one of those serendipitous moments that makes life special.
Driving back from my Saturday bagel run and paper read on this cool fall morning, the sidewalk along Queens Road West was a sea of various forms of pink. Pink tutus, pink sun visors, pink t-shirts, pink hair, scattered among walkers of all shapes and sizes. It was the annual Avon Breast Cancer Walk, which happens in various cities across the nation, including Charlotte.
"I wish I'd realized it was this weekend so I could have stood on the street and cheered," I thought. And then: "Why can't I?"
Rushing into my condo a few blocks from the route, I grabbed the purple wig, rainbow boa and pink Ray-Bans I'd worn to cheer my sister through last year's Chicago marathon. Pulling on my purple velour gloves, I staked out a spot on a hill at the intersection of Queens Road West and Selwyn.
"I love this pink!" I clapped and screamed as each group started through the crosswalk. "Thank you for walking! You guys look awesome!"
"Thank you for being out here! We love your purple!" they'd usually respond. Some stopped to take my picture, telling me they were from Maryland, D.C., Georgia, New York or just nearby Huntersville. They were about seven miles into their 26.2-mile route, with another 13 miles to walk tomorrow.
"You're walking for my mom!" I'd yell. "She's a survivor."
I must have said it two dozen or more times, and it surprised me how emotional I felt every time I uttered the words. It's been about fifteen years since Mom first had breast cancer, twelve since her second bout. But somehow seeing people doing breast cancer walks hits me deeper each October. Maybe it's because I've now had several booby-flattening exams of my own (most insurers let you start having mammograms when you're 10 years younger than your mom was when she was diagnosed). I hear of women my own age getting breast cancer, and I realize how young my mother (and my friends' mothers) were when they went through treatment.
One woman proudly told me it was her fifth year walking the event, and she likes Charlotte's route the best. "Did you hear how much Charlotte raised?" she yelled over her shoulder. "$3.2 million!"
"That's awesome!" I hollered back. "I knew my mom would be proud of me if I got out here and cheered."
"You tell her we're walking for her. And we're walking so you don't have to."