For most of her life, my beloved loved athletic activity. Basketball and softball for kinesthetic connection with other women. Sailing into Lake Champlain. Bicycling around town. Even after Huntington’s Disease had put most of this out of reach, she used to walk the few blocks to the corner store for her nightly chocolate bars.
Nowadays, her sporting events are more basic. Getting on and off the high antique bed blessed by earlier generations of her family. Navigating around my piles of paperwork into the living room. Using cutlery or fingers to keep food in control all the way to her mouth. Focus. Exertion. Trying again when one effort falls short. She’s still the athlete, and even after a fall, she’s gathering her strength to get back in the game.
So the Winter Olympics — which she hears but doesn’t really see clearly — fill our living room with people doing exactly what she does every day. Did a skier’s leg fly out to the side on that turn? Been there, done that. Did the skater fall in a heap before the eyes of the world? Yeah, that happened in the church parking lot. Did the curler have trouble getting the stone on the target? Yep.
But did someone complete a good run on bad ice? Done that, too. Did someone fight back from a deficit, land a spot on the podium with the last run? Did the whole team gather around to console a disappointed competitor? Yes, done those things, too.
So last night, just under a month out from the last ambulance ride, and almost two weeks since the neurologist asked for some new and scary tests, as Lawrence O’Donnell finished his Last Word, my beloved asked, “Where are the Olympics?”
“They’re not on now, it’s eleven p.m.,” I said. “But they start again in an hour.”
“Good,” she said, and snuggled back into her blankets.
“Are you gonna stay up for the Olympics?” I asked, somewhat incredulous.
And so, as I have done so many times with old movies or special music, as young adults do just to talk, as lovers do for sex, as hikers and snow-bunnies do to cover terrain in moonlight, she settled back in. I watched a bit of curling — a peaceful sport, good for overnight binging — and went off to bed.
Yes, she fell lightly at 3 a.m. when she got up to head for the bathroom. I knew she would. But by the time I heard her, figured out where to look, and arrived, she had risen and resumed her trek. After I checked her head for its latest bump, she settled back into her home base, and I went back to bed.