Today was another bittersweet day. Today is Annette's birthday. Forty-two years ago, she was born. (Here we are at Annette's 40th birthday, two years ago, the day after Mom's funeral) We all headed to Tom's to spend the day together. First, was a memorial service at church for all the people who have died in the last year. This is the church associated with the boys' school. It is not the church that Tom, Annette and the boys go to, but it was nice to go nonetheless. Tom carried a candle in to church and put it at the front with all the others.
We then went to the cemetary to place flowers on her gravesite. I hadn't seen her headstone yet. It was difficult to see her name and dates carved in marble. It is a beautiful stone that Annette picked out herself. It brought so many memories and feelings to surface again and we had a good cry.
After a quick lunch (including a birthday cake with candles to blow out), we laced up our sneakers and headed to the Buddy Walk. This is an annual event that raises awareness and money for those with Down Syndrome and the Down Syndrome Society. We have attended every walk since it began in their area. This was the 7th walk. What made is especially bittersweet was that Annette was responsible for bringing the walk to this area (and possibly Canada?). She has many internet friends, and through them, she learned about National Buddy Walks that happen in cities all over America. She worked hard to bring the Buddy Walk to her area. It started as a somewhat small event in 2002. This year, there were over 450 people and they raised over $28 000. Wow. It was wonderful to be there again and see the fruit of Annette's (and many others along the way, of course) labour. Annette's good friend, who spoke for the board, remembered her in her comments. They had photo albums of all the Buddy Walks thus far. Annette was in so many of them because of her primary involvement. It was hard to look at her so healthy and vibrant. It was great to see her looking so healthy and vibrant.
The walk has grown immensely from it's modest beginning 6 years ago. Ever modest Annette didn't take any credit for her hard work. Many people there today probably didn't know Annette. At first, that made me a little sad. But then I realized that Annette would have loved just that. The awareness and the event has become so large that it has taken on a life of its own. It has had to change venues 4 times to hold the ever increasing crowd. She would be smiling ear to ear. Through my tears, I tried to smile for that, too.