Some of you who know me now never met her. You might see pictures I post or hear a story I'll tell. But those of you who did know her, who got a chance to meet her, well, you know how much I loved her.
I was not a triathlete four years ago. I was not an Ironman two times over. I was not a coach. She was with me though. In my first sprint, I saw the signs at my first half Ironman and we ran together in Lake Placid - my first Ironman. Every time I cross a finish line I send her a kiss. Triathlon and reading were my ways was of coping with her absence. Now triathlon is a way of life.
Four years. Only four years. She knew how much I loved her too. You see she told me. She showed me. In her last days, she showed me...
I had to carry her up and down the stairs each day for her walks. I was used to it though because the stairs had become difficult in her old age so carrying her became part of the daily routine. Except in these last days she was dead weight. Sixty pounds of dead weight is heavy but it didn't matter. My discomfort was secondary to her.
I carried her up the stairs from our walk outside, heading straight to the living room because my sister and friend were coming over to say goodbye. I set her down on the floor, "I'll be right back with your food and water". We looked at each other - her eyes cloudy with age, mine full of tears. I smiled bravely but my heart was breaking.
I backed out and ran into my room to get some tissue because I could feel myself starting to choke on my tears. I wanted to be brave for her. For every time she was there when I needed her. Fifteen years was quickly coming to an end.
I walked back into the kitchen stopping in my tracks. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. She was struggling to get her balance as she hoisted herself up from the floor. She looked at me and walked into the kitchen on wobbly legs. My legs were cemented to the floor. She made her way to her dishes and ate out of her bowl. She hadn't walked or eaten on her own in three days. She ate the entire dish then turned and looked at me as if to say "See? I'm okay. I'll be okay". I walked over to her, tears spilling down my face faster than I could swipe them away, dropping to my knees I hugged her. "Thank you" I whispered into her velvet ears.Four years. Only four years. It's a long time and yet it feels like that memory happened last night. It's been awhile since I saw a sign of her being near. But maybe that's because lately she hasn't strayed far from my thoughts.
Only in memories.
Only in dreams.