Saturday is my favorite night of the year. More loved than Halloween and Christmas and my birthday and the UK v. U of L game. It's the annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraiser in which participants sample beer, wine, and liquor from all over the world while touring a giant aquarium.
Looking at fish is awesome. Looking at fish after a few glasses of wine is awesomer. And looking at fish after wine and celebrating another cancer-free year while giving money to the organization that supports your flavor of cancer is the awesomest.
Even though it was not easy finding a sitter this year, and even though going means the kid doesn't get to participate in both days of a big swim meet, I would not miss this event for anything. I started going as a way to say "F-U" to my own lymphoma and to honor my two friends who have had leukemia.
This year, I will go knowing that leukemia took my mother from me. So this time it's personal.
One of my favorite memories of my mom, one from those dark days when she was in the hospital just diagnosed, was when her young doctor asked her if she had been a drinker. She was a little hard of hearing and looked to me to answer his question.
"She drinks a little bit, a glass of wine here and there on special occasions."
"Looking back," my mother said, "I should have had a lot more."
So one glass of wine will be for her. Another for my friend Missy, and one for my friend Robyn. Don't worry, you guys, they're not full glasses, and I'll be there for like 4 hours, and I'm not driving, so I'll be fine. Unless the Milagro tequila guy is there, and then chances are I won't be fine.
Being a lymphoma survivor sucks. Loving and losing people to leukemia is hell.
On this one night of the year, though, I celebrate that I have come out on the other side. It never makes it easier or worth it that I got sick, and then got treatment that made me sicker, and then watched my own mother go through it nine years later.
But clinking glasses with my husband and two of my best friends, surrounded by hundreds of people who are lending support to the cause...I at least know I'm not alone.