The aroma of coffee leads me to my wife, perched on the window seat, thirty-four floors above it all. She’s taking in the view that brought us here, the view that nourishes her.
“How’s it looking?”
“I’m in the midst of a great white cloud,” she says. “And I’m feeling kind of ethereal.”
“And I’ve come to report that, down at sea level, it’s The Great Lakes Palm Sunday hurricane. Sideways rain, full-frontal gale. Randy wasted no time, bless his heart—squat, pee, sidestep, squat, poop, head for home. He knows when the hard rain falls, there’s no sense getting soaked.”
“Thick white fog,” my wife says. “I wonder if this is what Eternity looks like.”
“I want more from Eternity than thick white fog,” I say. “I want faces, sailboats, sunrises over the lake. Thick white fog I’ve got—all day, every day.”
“I hope you get your wish,” she says. “And in this lifetime.”
“Thank you. What’s your wish?”
“I want to feel like myself again. I want to be eager for every coming day. I want simple pleasures—food that nourishes, sleep that renews.”
“And I hope you get your wish,” I tell her.
And then my wife says, “Honey, how did we get here? Together, in this beautiful place with the beautiful view? We have each other, we have love, we have so much. We have gratitude. We take nothing for granted. Here we are, with the American Dream. But we’ve also got what America fears most: America’s couple with blindness and cancer.”
“It makes me wonder when I hear two things: everything happens for a reason and you’re never given more than you can handle. I wonder but I neither argue nor explain. It just comes down to living with things and sometimes living in spite of things.”
“Do me one favor, Honey,” says my wife. “never say I lost my battle with cancer, that I put up a good fight. There’s no winner or loser. I’m not fighting, even as I grit my teeth and question all that has instilled faith in me. I win as I live with it. It’s going to put us in our place and that’s humbling but it’s not losing. That’s a tough lesson and it’s part of the life we’re living.”
“Honey, I’d like to have a refund of all the time and energy I spent fighting blindness. I’d invest it in acceptance. Fighting never brought me much serenity.”
“So, all you want is time?” asks my wife with a chuckle. “I’m a little short at the moment. But if you get me a banana and the Sunday Trib, I’ll read you the sports page.”
As I prepare my wife’s breakfast tray, I hear her call, “You gonna go crazy on the treadmill this morning?”
“You mean, am I going to break into the song only I can hear? The answer is yes, definitely.”
“Please don’t sing that ABBA song in front of all those old people.”
“You mean, ‘Superper Trooperper?’”
“And are you going to do that one-armed flourish like you’re conducting the orchestra? That scares people.”
“Do I embarrass you, dear? Just make believe you don’t know me.”
“Oh, but I do know you,” she says. “And to know you is to love you.”
“I wish you could walk with me today, Honey,” I say.
“Go get ‘em, Tiger. You have many miles to go.”
So today I walk for two. I have miles to go. Miles to go before I sleep. And, before the weight of this cancer, this blindness, this beautiful and terrible life brings me to my knees, I walk on the treadmill, walk and walk until “Once in a Lifetime” takes me across the finish line.
“Precious,” Pretenders, from “Pretenders” (“I was feeling kind of ethereal”)
“Ask Me No Questions,” Bangles, from “Doll Revolution” (treadmill warm-up)
“Lost and Found,” The Kinks, from “Think Visual” (treadmill)
“When the Water Falls,” by Collective Soul, from “Collective Soul” (treadmill)
“Once in a Lifetime,” Talking Heads, from “Stop Making Sense” (treadmill finale)