Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Today I went to the gym. Everything started out normally, but I ended up leaving the place in tears.

Because the Y we belong to is in an ancient building, the two main workout areas are in separate locations. There is a room upstairs with some of the cardio equipment, and the weight lifting machines and rest of the cardio machines are down in the basement. They explained when I joined that people liked having some of the treadmills and stuff upstairs where there are windows, unlike the basement room where they actually have plastic films with clouds and sky covering the fluorescent lights.

I went downstairs first since it was leg lifting day. I noticed a man working out nearby. He was old, and very frail looking. He also had every inch of his body covered except for his face, and he took great care to immediately cover any part that may have accidentally become exposed. For example, he had on gloves, and if he moved his arms in such a way that some skin at his wrists was revealed, he would quickly pull his gloves up and his shirt sleeves down. He also cleaned every piece of equipment before using it, whereas most people wipe them down after they're finished. I just shrugged him off as a germophobe and went about my business.

After I finished lifting, I headed upstairs to jump on an elliptical machine. The room upstairs is usually much more quiet, and I often bring something to read. There was another woman in there, someone that I've seen several times before. We usually exchange pleasantries and then continue with our workouts. The Y has recently decided to move all of the cardio machines down into the basement, and since we both seem to prefer the current arrangement, we started chatting about our displeasure with the new plans. During our talk I discovered that another reason we both like working out in that room is because of its proximity to the child care area. Her daughter is older, but she still likes to be nearby.

All of a sudden the frail, germophobe man walks in and starts talking to her. I assumed he was her father because of his physical appearance, however when he left the room, she told me that he was her husband. He is suffering from stage 4 colon cancer. And they have a 4 year old daughter. She started to get a little choked up. She said that coming to work out has been some kind of a sanctuary for her through her husband's illness. She told me that she finds more solace in looking at the trees than she does at church, and when they move everything to the basement next week, she doesn't know what she's going to do. I told her I'd pray for her family, and even though I'm generally not a praying person, I meant it.

Most days I try and remember how lucky I am. Today there is no way I could forget.

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2 comments:

Arizaphale said...

Woah. A friend of ours has just lost her 40 year old husband to multiple myeloma. They have a 2 year old and a 4 year old. They meant to get married on Dec 1st as they had never gotten around to it.
Sometimes life sucks...and when it doesn't....we should be continually rejoicing.

Mrs. Chicken said...

It is hard to be so reminded of our mortality. Colon cancer killed my dad at age 54. I obsessively calculate how old The Poo will be when I am that age.