And now a story about a jersey that tells a story.
A pink jersey. Pink because of Finn’s constant stuffy Pink bear. Pink because of the Backyardigans and Uniqua. Pink because Finn was subtly partial to pink.
And pink because of a very special little stuffy. It started in 2005, when Finn and Baird were born. At birth, Baird and Finn were each given two special blankets. Until February 2007, the blankets never left Baird and Finn’s cribs. That changed after Finn was diagnosed in February 2007. After that, Finn’s Blue Bear went everywhere with Finn, and I mean everywhere. Operations, MRI’s, ct’s, doctor’s appointments. You name it, Blue Bear was there.
Unfortunately while we were in Boston in the fall of 2007, Blue Bear got misplaced. Anticipating that something like this could happen, we quickly substituted Pink Bear for Blue Bear. To our surprise and relief Finn took to Pink Bear immediately. And now Pink Bear went everywhere with Finn.
So Pink Bear, Finn’s constant stuffy, was the start of pink. But pink doesn’t stop there. In the summer of 2008, our entire family because huge fans of a kids show called the Backyardigans. And I mean huge fans. We owned every episode before long and as the tumours grew and Finn needed more rests, Backyardigans became a constant companion. After some initial jostling we all settled on particular characters. Sam was Tyrone. I was Austin. Sarah was Tasha. Baird was Pablo. Finn was Uniqua; a pink character with pink polka dots.
So now we have pink bear and a favourite pink cartoon character.
In September 2008, it became clear that Finn’s attraction to pink went beyond a pink bear and Uniqua. While at Canuck Place, Finn started specifically choosing pink blankets over other colours. He was subtle about it, but it was clear that Finn was very partial to pink.
And so pink has become a way of celebrating Finn and at Finn’s celebration of life many of us wore pink to honour Finn including Finn’s Godmother Blayne who had absolutely refused to wear pink her entire life.
So pink because Finn liked it. But pink for other reasons too. Pink represents an approach to life that was very much Finn. A sort of I like pink and I don’t care. Pink is entirely consistent with the mantra that Finn lived and supplements it very nicely I think. If you are wearing pink (particularly as a boy) then certainly you are prepared to Run, Jump, Bounce, Dance, Sing, Love, Smile and of course Ride. If you are not prepared to wear pink then maybe you need to think about things a little bit.
In addition, pink helps spread the word of Finn and that is very important to me. I want Finn to be remembered. He earned that much.
But pink is just the start of the jersey.
On our jerseys we also carry Finn’s mantra. Run Jump Bounce Dance Sing Love Smile and Ride. I have covered that mantra in other places, but its worth repeating that the mantra itself comes from Finn. Finn lived it every chance he got. And here’s the thing. Finn continued to live the mantra even when it got very hard . He continued to press forward until the tumours that had invaded his body wouldn’t let him any more. And even then he tried. Until the end he always tried. And that’s why I say, it is easy when it’s easy, but a person’s true measure is whether they can do it when it’s hard. And Finn did.
The words we carry on our backs aren’t just words. The words are power. Power to get you up hills and through rain. Power to make you smile when things are hard. The words are also responsibility. But more on that below.
On our backs we also carry some of our supporters. Organizations that helped us get to a million dollars. Organizations I am proud to support.
And our shoulders? Our shoulders are important. On our right shoulder is a peregrine faclon. The peregrine faclon is fast. Very fast. Fastest animal on the planet fast. And Finn loved speed. But peregrine has a double meaning for me. Saint Peregrine is also the patron saint of cancer patients and I like to think what we are doing is going to change the world for cancer patients in the future.
Underneath the peregrine are the words “Touched By an Angel”. This is an acknowledgement of the people who have made all of this possible. The people who sponsor us. Even though they are not themselves riding, they too have been touched. Touched by an Angel.
On our left shoulder we carry courage beads.
Like all oncology kids, Finn received a bead for every treatment he endured. Finn’s string of beads is impossibly long. Stupidly long. It is just wrong. And our goal is to change that.
In 2010, we carried 33 courage beads on our shoulder. In 2010 we carried 32 courage beads. And this year there will be 31. And someday there will be none.
Underneath the courage beads it says Battles are About How You Live. We wear those words as a reminder. A reminder that we should not take a person’s measure by why they died but by how they lived. A reminder that Finn is not the boy who died because of cancer but the boy who lived in spite of it. Pee bags and poop bags be damned. There were cars to be ridden and third steps to jump off of. There was Running and Jumping that had to get done. Bouncing and Dancing. Singing and Smiling. Loving and Riding. A reminder that Finn did not lose a battle, he died. A reminder that those we have loved and lost as a result of cancer did not lose either. Like everybody else eventually will, they died, but when we remember them, our memories are infused with how they lived. Because well and truly, Battles are About How You Live.
Ultimately, the Team Finn jersey is magic. When adorned in the Team Finn pink, you will be recognized and sometimes thanked and people will often start cheering for you for no apparent reason.
The jersey is recognizable and leads to warm smiles and friendly greetings and will encourage others to help you along.
Wearing the jersey, you will begin to understand why sometimes pink can be an emotion.