Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Monday, May 02, 2005

D.C. Day 4: Natural History and Honoring Those With Brain Tumors

Monday morning we headed for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum is huge, it would have taken us more than one day to see everything.

I've never been any particular fan of crystals, but touring the Smithsonian's Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals took up most of our day.

The exhibit started out with jewelry and huge cut gemstones, the Hope Diamond with it's pale blue tint.

Then, the really cool stuff. Asteroids, both whole ...

... and cut to show the intricate patterns on the inside.

There were other-wordly crystals reminiscent of plants and pincushions ...

... septarian nodules, basically mudballs that filled with calcium and other minerals over the years.

These amazing elbaite crystals were taken from a cave not far from us in San Diego.

We spent a short while looking at Egyptian treasures and watching videos of how mummies are analyzed. This intact mummy was scanned in a CT scanner to determine it was a man in his 40's.

Cats were highly revered and were preserved too.

We left the museum and headed for the Senate Garage Fountain, where the Brain Tumor Awareness Week display, "Hidden Under Our Hats", was going on.

There is a group, the Brain Tumor Action Network who collect hats commemorating brain tumor patients, both living and those who have passed on. The hats are displayed during Brain Tumor Awareness Week and at other places around the country.

I had grand illusions of preparing hats in honor of Steven and Kyra and taking them with me, but the frenzy that always precedes our Memphis trips prevented me from getting to it, so I'll need to work on that in quieter and calmer times...

The weather had turned really cold, it was raining and windy, the coldest it had been and by the time we arrived the hats had been removed.

We stayed for a vigil, where prayers were said and names of patients and our angels were read. Kyra's name was read and I got up to recognize Steven.

A woman I had never met showed up late and got up to read her daughter's name-- Cheyenne Fiveash.

I had never met this woman but I knew of her daughter through another friend of mine, Andrea Passarella, who has a son with a slow-growing brain tumor.

Their beautiful daughter Cheyenne died in October. When Cheyenne's mother left the microphone, I approached her and introduced myself.

She looked so terribly sad right then, the experience remained with me and I thought of her all day on Mother's Day.

By the time the vigil was over I had no feeling in my hands up to my wrists and that's my excuse for not bringing out my camera. Another acquaintance of mine, Bill Paola, who also lost his daughter Rachael 2 1/2 years ago to the same type of brain tumor as Cheyenne posted some photos here.

It was an emotional and touching experience to be there with so many people that I know but have never met in person before.

To be continued...

- Kathleen

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