Monday, May. 02, 2005
Last year when I was walking through the gym with a 45 pound Olympic bar slung over my shoulders I pulled a Laurel and Hardy sort of move, turning to reply to something my buddy Glen was saying without making sure that nobody was near me.
Well, somebody was close to me, a big guy well over 6 feet and 240 pounds. I clocked him but good with the bar. Looking back now I realize that I was extremely lucky that I hit a person taller than I am, because I hit him in the shoulder. Smacking someone in the head with a 45 pound metal bar could cause some major damage.
I was also very lucky that I hit someone with a very good sense of humour because when I whimpered that I hoped he wouldn't kill me he burst out laughing. For weeks afterwards he had a very ugly bruise on his shoulder and whenever he saw me in the gym he'd mock cower, as if he was afraid of me.
Well, apparently gyms work on the same system as kindergarden, a place where I also occasionally smacked people and ended up being friends with them. Paul and I are friends which is really odd because beyond the obvious gender gap, he's young enough to be my son. I guess we connect over our mutual passion for slinging around bits of metal.
We share a lot of the day to day of life. He brings in the latest pictures of his beloved baby daughter, Emma, and I get to bask in his joy over her every little accomplishment. Watching this huge, muscular man mime a tiny wee girl's giddy discovery that she can, indeed, climb up stairs touches my heart in ways that are hard to explain.
And he understood my relief when my own daughter, his contemporary, came home safe and sound from a solo vacation in Ireland.
He mentioned today that his sister is flying home for a two week vacation. The two of them are close so I remarked that this would be a happy time for him.
There was a pause and he said no, it wasn't, because she was coming home to be with their mother who is going into the hospital today for a mastectomy. Last year's lumpectomy and chemo weren't enough. The cancer is back. And maybe it's spread.
More surgery, more chemo.
For a woman my age breast cancer is the big, bad bogey man skulking behind the closet door. One in ten of us will get it, and even though the survival rate is up in the 80 per cent range, that still means that one in five women who have this disease don't make it.
I tried to keep my face a sympathetic, fear free mask as I wrestled with my own unease about this disease. I told him I was sure that this time they'd get it all and even though chemo is terrible while it's happening, it would be completely worth it because then his mom could go on to recovery.
I said the survival stats are excellent and that I was sure that his mom would be part of the big majority that pull through.
He picked up some dumb bells and started doing Arnold presses. Taking this as a cue that the conversation was done, I went over to the nearby squat cage, slung 40 pounds on the Olympic bar and started doing lunges. The rest of our workout time was all small talk.
Here I am at my keyboard hours later mourning the fact that I could not find better words for my friend, that I could not give him more comfort. Here I sit worrying about a woman I've never met.
I thought these things would get easier as I aged, than I would learn safe channels through the muddy waters of fear, grief, sadness.
Apparently I was wrong.
Goal for 2005: 1,250 miles - 2000 kilometers
Want to delve into my sordid past?
She's mellllllllllllllting - Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 - Back off, Buble - Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 - Dispersed - Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 - Nothing comes for free - Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 - None of her business - Friday, Nov. 04, 2011 -
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