Laura and I are home now. I can’t believe how many beautiful people I met over the past week – I can’t believe I had to leave them. I wanted to stay with them forever. I know, in my heart, that they’ll be with me forever.
I had so many grand plans for picture taking, videoing and posting – well, that didn’t happen the way I imagined. Every day was overwhelming – more emotionally than physically (I’m breathing with beautiful, athlete’s lungs, I can do anything I want physically!!!) But I’d flop into bed exhausted and get ready for an early day the next day… But, I ain’t done yet – I believe that I will be posting quite a bit over the next week or so, beginning today.
Here is a picture of me with Bill. He drove this amazing creature! He sat in this little pocket in the side with no view of anything except a little of the pavement below. He was directed by another guy sitting in a similar pocket in the front, looking out of a screened-in hole in the front, right side of the float. Bill has been doing this for 18 years – he and the other guy work nearly on a psychic level to keep the float going where it needs to go. We all felt safe with him – but I kinda let him down… I promised him I would bring him a donut in the morning and I forgot. He forgave me.
Here are two videos – the first one is a few minutes long and shows us getting ready for judging… It’s a “dress rehearsal” and we wear what we wear at the parade, and do and act in whatever fashion we’ll be acting during the actual parade:
Here is the second one – this is during the actual judging. (I apologize for the weird metalic sound, it's not on the original and may be due to the YouTube conversion...) Laura took both of these and you can hear her supplying some narration… It’s a little long, but it’s special – and you can hear our little group erupt when the judging is over. Please forgive some of the jumpy filming – Laura was trying to video and take still shots at the same time. What you cannot see is that we’re waving at quite a crowd of Donate Life people sitting before us – and the guy Laura pans over to a few times is Bryan, who coordinates this entire event for us:
Bill, our float driver, also said we would get bored silly of the song blasting in our ears by about the fifth time… Eighteen years of experience apparently hasn’t crossed his path with the likes of me… Throughout the five miles, probably for about 3+ hours, we listened to Faith Hill’s “There you’ll be” over and over and over and over… Here is the chorus:
Faith Hill: “There you’ll be” chorus
In my dreams
I'll always see you soar
Above the sky
In my heart
There will always be a place
For you for all my life
I'll keep a part
Of you with me
And everywhere I am
There you'll be
And everywhere I am
There you'll be
Bill was wrong. Fifty feet from the end of the parade route – surrounded by all of these incredible people – and waving to over a million spectators – “And everywhere I am, there you’ll be” still made me well up… It did the first time I heard it on our local country station – it did after a few hundred times driving slowly down Colorado Boulevard… It’s how I feel every single day – I can feel her… Everywhere I am, there she is. And I know it’s how so very many of us feel – whether we’ve received, or given… I met so many beautiful people over this past week who feel this way too…
Over the next few weeks – I promise I will post about many of the other amazing donor family members, and recipients I met this past week… In the meanwhile – Here is a picture of all of the float riders taken by our official photographer (and awesome guy) Scott Weersing:
Epilogue: The Donate Life Float received the "Queen's Trophy" for the best use of roses. We're all very proud of that and I know that Laurie, from OneLegacy, is thrilled. There were over 1,000 roses dedicated to donors from all over the country on her Family Circle Garden in the beautiful, golden stars leading the float including flowers there for Kari, Chloe and Chase. Laurie is a donor sister, and though this float and our "Queen's Trophy" means so much to so many - I think it has a little deeper meaning for her. Congratulations, Laurie - and everyone who helped.