It's 2 am. We've been here seven hours, with five hours to go.
Mama, Daddy, Aunt Ruthie and David have gone back to their homes to sleep, and Emily, Lydia and I are still here representing the Donny Diggers.
It's been a wonderful night, and one that I will write more about later. We've been walking, participating in the different events and now I'm reflecting.
When I was fourteen, one of my dear friends, Madi, died of cancer. I kept a journal of letters to her in the year after and I want to share some of the things I wrote:
"My last night with you, my head was on your shoulder. I never wanted to let you go."
"I can feel you when I dance. It almost feels like your spirit is in my body."
"In the last card I sent, which I don't think you ever received, I said that I would always remember your strength. And I will, because it lives in me now."
"I hate the fact that you had to leave me here. And that I let you go. That I had to let you go. I want to be brave, bold and beautiful like you, but I feel lost without someone showing me how it's done. Because you are definitely the bravest, boldest & beautiful-est girl I ever knew."
"I still feel like time has stopped and everyone keeps moving around me and I don't know how to keep going... But with your strength and courage I will. I love you."
"I really am dreading going back to Peace Camp. Because it seems like my whole world has changed since you left. It doesn't seem right to have Peace Camp if you're not going to be there."
"I'm taking things one day at a time and it seems to be working better. I'm pretty nervous about Peace Camp and is doing a dance for you, but I think there's an underlying excitement and relief that I won't be alone anymore."
"Peace Camp was fun, but I was constantly wondering what was missing. You. No Madi in our dance... Instead a dance in honor of you. No Madi at the bottom of the pyramids, instead we all broke our backs in your honor. No more Madi Grace at Peace Camp. But you left a legacy in your short, short life. We will never forget you. Ever."
"It's so hard for me to look at a card with a shoe on it now. I start freaking out because on instinct, I feel like I have to buy it and then it hits me again."
"I don't believe in fate. I don't think anyone is destined to fail. We write our own stories, though sometimes things get in the way, and the story is short. It doesn't make it any less worthwhile."
"9 months. 3/4 of a year. A year ago, you were 3 months from dying. Did you know it then? Had you already accepted your end? Your dad told me you were content, that was the look on your face. I want to believe you knew it was coming, yet still persevered and was cheerful. Because that's you. And not even cancer could change that."
Just think, five years ago, we didn't even know each other. Isn't that weird?"
"It's so hard to believe it's been one year. The day just sort of passed. "
"I wish I could send a shoe card addressed to Madi Paterson-Watt in heaven."