I watched the clock last night. It seemed every “benchmark” hour would be destined to last an eternity. But that was not the case. Rather than counting minutes passing, I only saw chunks of time pass. Eleven o’clock flipped to one o’clock which flipped to four o’clock. I made it. Six o’clock in the morning I thought, “Did I miss our walk?”.
At first, I was a little disoriented as normally, my husband Kevin and I would be up with a coffee at 5:30 am. I think the chemo (at least that’s what I will blame) had me challenging whether I usually got up at 5:30 am or 6:30 am. Nonetheless, I sat up – everything seemed okay. I stood up – everything seemed okay. I grabbed my house-coat. I wan’t dizzy. I headed down stairs where I was greeted by the dog – and of course … my husband.
Kevin is my rock. He encourages me. He admires me. He listens to me. Now, I must confess that I have not been the best of company lately and my “moods” HAVE to have an impact on his mood and so I appreciate his stalwart attitude. He gives me hope. “Are you up for a walk this morning, Stacey?” he inquired of me. Yesterday was not good. I was spinning out of control mentally and my knees buckled from underneath me when I tried to walk down the block with Kevin last night.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to go. It is cold, dark, and raining. Maybe I shouldn’t go.” I excused myself.
“You don’t have to – we can go tonight instead. I just know you will be disappointed with yourself if you don’t go.” Kevin supported.
“I know. Are you going?” I queried.
“Yes. But I”ll go with you tonight too if you like.”
“Let me try, then. I don’t want to go. But I know a walk helps me clear my mind.” I tried to reassure myself. I got up and walked into the kitchen to check the sturdiness of my legs. They seemed to be okay. I was excited that my knees were okay. I was foggy in the head – but okay in the legs. I guess conditions cannot be perfect after a “poisoning”, after-all.
We changed and dressed for the weather. The house was dark and everyone was still asleep. The dog, Jazz, knew this routine and started to whimper in excitement. “Get your leash, Jazz.” I commanded. With leash in mouth (the dog’s), out we went through the front door into the black of night.
The pace was good. I felt alright. We walked, Kevin and I, in silence. It was like waiting for the storm to come. But there was no storm. I was almost afraid to talk in case my body was trying to signal something to me that I needed to pay attention to. If I missed the cue, would I collapse on the ground? But there was nothing.
We walked through the wetland – in the dark. It was warmer than I had expected and much more pleasant. I tried to pay attention to things that were appear “outside” my head rather than “inside” my head. Looking outside helped me to focus more on the here and now. It was actually beautiful. The water was black but the reeds broke up the monotony of the still ponds. There were no ducks basking on the walkway in the sun, but the trees orchestrated enough background music to keep the walk symphonic.
It wasn’t until we hit the Tiffin Traffic that Kevin and I started talking. It was actually me who talked and Kevin walked. I think he may have still been trying to accommodate my “unpredictable” needs from the previous day and so as not to provoke or offend, he was silent. Of course, I said, “Why are you not talking?”
And with that, the Tiffin Traffic faded into the background to our conversation about relationships, people, and life in general.
It was when we hit the park when I realized how “good” I felt. I wrapped my arms around my husband of 23 years in a sincere gesture of gratitude and relief. It was decadent. I did not want to let this minute go. Had anyone seen us, they must have thought that we were recovering from a fight – or some disagreement – as couples do embrace at the prospect of relief that things would be okay. “I am so glad I went for this walk, Kevin.” I rejoiced. “Thank-you for encouraging me.”
“You are welcome, Stacey.” Kevin replied tenderly.
And with that, we turned and continued our last leg home. The dog raced around furiously waiting for a stick to be thrown. Morning commuters pulled out of their driveways to begin their trek to work. The sun’s light began to illuminate our path so that our footing finally became more visible.
My Mom and Dad used to quote to each other a line from Omar Khayyam’s, “The Rubaiyat” which read “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine… and thou.” I didn’t get it at the time, but now the line speaks to me about the importance of appreciating the simple things that are the essence of life. For me, these days, it is a morning walk, a morning talk, and Kevin.