At the closing ceremony of Relay For Life of Second Life’s 2011 event, ‘Hope For All Seasons’, Stingray read a touching story that is used at many relays around the world. When I was researching this poignant recitation, I found that it is generally used during the luminaria ceremony however, I believe it is just as appropriate when made part of the closing.
This was the first time I had heard this thought-provoking and emotion-inducing piece and since some of you may not have heard it either, I thought I would share it with you.
The Story of the Empty Table
We call your attention to the small table that occupies a place of dignity and honour. It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that some of our loved ones are missing from this gathering.
The chair is empty. Many of those who fought the battle with cancer are no longer with us, but rather than mourning their loss, we choose to celebrate their life.
These people are unable to be with their loved ones and families now, so let us join together to recognize and honor them, and to bear witness to their struggle and their memory.
The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of a single patient, sometimes alone in the fight against his or her disease.
The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the medical profession: doctors, nurses, and researchers who help fight the battle for life.
The single rose in the vase signifies the enduring love of their families and friends and the strength of a patients’ will to fight the disease that ultimately claimed many of them.
The pink ribbon on the vase represents the ribbons worn on the lapels of millions who support a continued search for a cure not only for breast cancer, but for other cancers as well — cancers that are expected to kill over half a million people this year.
A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of the bitter battle against a deadly disease. A battle fought by more than 1.3 million new patients each year.
The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless tears
of personal anguish shed by the patient and those shed by the family members and friends who have lost a loved one.
The glass is inverted in memory of those who are not here to join
our celebration of successes.
But the candle, the candle represents the light of hope,
that lives in the hearts of all of us. Hope represented by cancer survivors and the hope for a cure discovered as a result of the detailed work of the medical profession made able by the funds generated through events such as the Relay For Life of Second Life.