Growing up in beautiful northwestern Wisconsin, I could swim before I could walk. My home town was built on a beautiful lake. Our house was across the street from a park with a river. Our little town built an awesome indoor pool so kids like me would have something to do. Being in, on, or near the water has always been my favorite place to be.
When my sister’s cancer metastasized to her lung last December, I knew I needed to swim as much as I could to help calm my fears and find a way to relax. I joined our YMCA. The first couple weeks in the pool made my body ache and left me exhausted. The meditation of swimming laps with the water gliding over my skin making me feel like I was flying took me away from the realities of my sister’s illness and my husband’s death. I stayed in the pool as long as I could pushing my body to its limit.
Eventually, to my great delight, my sister healed well enough from her lung surgery to join me in the pool. For about a month, we swam two or three mornings a week and then went out for lunch. I loved our time together. It reminded me that she will get strong and healthy again, and that cancer does not always win.
We last swam together about 4 weeks ago. Then the cancer came back.
I haven’t been back in the pool since my sister’s recent diagnosis. I can’t yet. The pool used to be my refuge from thinking about Sis’s illness, but now it’s all I see when I am there because I don’t get to swim with my sister right now. Cancer stole that from me, too.
I am sure I will be back in the water sometime soon. It just might not be in the pool at the Y. Fortunately, we live about 40 minutes from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan. Even in the worst of times, The Lake calms my fears and helps me face whatever comes next.