I didn’t trust that I got the time right. I don’t trust my memory to most things these days. When I walked in Vandie’s front door, however, and heard the fitness music playing I breathed a sigh of relief. I had already sent Katya on her way with the van.
In through the front door I ventured to the music of the doggies who “greet” all those who enter. One lone pair of shoes lay in waiting for their own to retrieve them after the fitness class for which they had been replaced by more sensible “stepping” shoes.
Down the hall I went. This hall was familiar to me. It was at times the Green Mile – down which I walked to face my lack of discipline with respect to fitness. When I had missed fitness for a week or so – Vandie felt she had to catch me up! It was a blessing and a curse all at once. This time, however, my absence had been rather extended and my new, cancer-free, cut-up and stitched back together again body was rather seemingly green all on its own.
Down the hall I walked with trepidation. How would my new body respond?
Down the hall I walked with glee. I was among my fitness partners once again.
Down the hall I walked – until I got to the door leading to the basement.
I could hear the ladies talking with one another as we do to catch up with each others’ lives before beginning our fitness routines. I paused and listened for a moment. It was one of those moments when you must take a breath. You are unsure of what awaits. You breathe but can’t quite catch your breath.
Down the stairs I went, turned the corner to catch Vandie’s eye. “Stacey!” she shouted out loud.
“I wasn’t sure if you thought I’d really come,” I explained. I saw that she had set up a step for me anyhow, trusting that I would come.
“Stacey!” shouted Janet, my fellow fitness partner. She too jumped up and ran to give me a hug.
It was like a home-coming after I had been away for a very long time. It was hard to stuff the tears back. I was a different person from the last time I had been with Vandie and Janet. So much had happened. So much had been lost – yet – so much gained.
“Oh, it is good to see you! I can’t believe you are back two weeks after chemo. You are a viking! You are my hero, Stacey,” I heard.
I think I simply slimed them with news from the past several months and they took it. It was a thorough and total purge of emotion. I admitted my terror and my joy. I admitted how pleased I was to be back, yet how sad I was that I had to begin my fitness all over again.
“You will be back in shape in no time, Stacey!” Vandie reassured me. “You rock!”
And with that – it was down to business. Vandie put on the music, started marching, and Janet and I followed with loyal devotion. Vandie was our leader. Vandie was our raison d’etre. Vandie kept us sane. She put up with no nonsense. She took no excuses. But, on that day, she would not let me push myself too hard. Truthfully, neither would Janet. I knew I was in good hands with these ladies. Good hands, and soon to be good health. I was in a place with loving friends. I was in a place where I could cry if I wanted, laugh if I wanted, or do nothing at all. I was in a place where I would be listened to, hugged if needed, or given a good kick in the but. Here, at Vandie’s fitness, I was home.