You never know who you are going to meet on the train. On JACKIE1-25-15 's wonderful Freedom Train, recognizing October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I walked into the Cause to Reminisce Car and there was my sister Carol. You may remember her from other stories I've shared - how we backpacked across Europe in our 20s, or tackled the white waters of Arkansas' Cossatot River in a canoe in our 30s. But in this memory today on the train, Carol is a toddler.
I am sitting with my other siblings on our freshly mown Midwestern lawn. We are teasing Carol to tell us the color of the grass, which she finally says is orange. We fall over laughing, and then ask her again, and again. I am seven. She begins to cry.
There is a second memory. Carol is 12. I have painted her lips with lip gloss and dressed her in my clothes so that I can sneak her into an 'R' rated movie with me and my friends. The movie was some featherweight Rom-Com that would be PG today. At the time, it was all very Mata Hari and Carol was thrilled. I remember too how much learning of our little trespass upset my mother, and how diminished I felt for it.
I don't know why these two memories ride this train ride with me today. But they lead me to another. Here, in 2010, I am raging war by Carol's side as she fights breast cancer. And survives, a changed woman. Stronger, more elm tree, less oak.
That is me, too, bending more gracefully with the sway of life. I say, pick your battles, and give them your all. Join the fight against nicotine and all forms of cancer.
The rest of the time, walk gently. Play nice. Wear pink.