Yeaaaaaaah, his school's RELAY FOR LIFE TEAM had a campsite and the announcement was to invite everyone to come out and be supportive.
So, as we wandered into the throngs of literally thousands and thousands and thousands of people....I was honestly totally fucking amazed. It took us a while to get our bearings. There are hundreds of "campsites" where each team has a base and they're usually selling something to also help raise money, or giving stuff away. The place is full of people singing, and dancing, and laughing.
There were even people dressed up like KISS.
It was one of the most bizarre things I've ever attended. I really loved it.
There were tons of high schools there, all walking and while we were there they had a DJ leading a few thousand teenagers through various dances.
I learned that despite the ridicule that I've heard, teenagers will dance and sing gleefully to Justin Bieber. I had no idea he was actually popular but these kids were having a fantastic time.
It wasn't anything like I expected, Relay for Life. I don't know what I expected. I've done the Race for the Cure several times in several states, it's always sort of the same. You walk, you get a coffee, you go out for breakfast after. I am sure some people run. I don't know any of those people.
This was more like, a feast and a party all in one. Everyone was welcome. I'm not sure I've been to such an exuberant, and joy filled event in a long time. Despite the seriousness, despite the sad nature of what the event is there about - it was about life and celebrating it. Whomever puts it on has done it right.
It was fairly amazing.
I explained to my oldest boy what the luminaries were for - in memory of those who have died, or in honor of survivors and he pauses, looking at so many all lit against the night sky.
"That's a lot of people with cancer," he remarked.
Yeah. Yeah it is.
I saw a family, a dad and three sons, pause to take a picture with a luminary.
It was the mom of the family, now gone from their lives. "Smile with mom's candle," the dad said. And they did.
I didn't say anything, my kids were being nutty, it was the end of the night. But I watched it quietly, this amazingly sad moment, a moment I can't even FATHOM. Then dad handed one boy the bag of cotton candy and they bounced off to do something fun.
The lesson there is that life goes on.
Enjoy it. And make it count.