Here I sit in the sun in 23c watching beachcombers soak in the precious rays overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Yes it is January, and yes I have escaped the grey, dark and wetness of Belgium for two weeks. It is my 10th day cycling in the mountains, refinding some fitness but not over doing it. The original mission was twofold: Avoidance of depression that would have surely taken hold if I stayed in Belgium during the holidays. It was only the 2nd holiday season without Yves and the kids and I knew it could be difficult. Biking in the wet, grey and cold weather just is not motivating. Call me a "softie" or call me smart. Choosing an option with sun and big climbs over flat wet and possible depression seemed a "no brainer".
Secondly, I have committed to two big race events in June and July and getting a winter phase one on the bike training is a practical way to jumpstart my fitness.
Thus here I sit for 2more days before going back to reality.
However, one particular event made me realize why I am REALLY here.
One evening after a long ride, I left my hotel room to get some dinner. The dining area is located on the lower level of the building. While in the elevator, a older man with white hair, heavyset build looking a bit "off" got in. The door opened at the lobby and he asked me where the restaurant was. I informed him that it was one floor lower thus he stayed , and we disembarked together. I found a table and started to proceed to the buffet. Just at that moment, the same gentleman asked me if I was sitting alone and if so, could we sit together?
"Why not" i thought. He looked harmless and I am always open to chatting.
After retrieving our food, we sat down at the small square table. Bad Christmas music played in the background. The restaurant was filled with retired couples, Russian and British tourists and well as a group of young track and field athletes there for a winter training camp. Add me in and we are an eclectic group to say the least. If it weren't for my obsession with the bike, I would not be there at all!
As we sat with our food, the gentleman introduces himself and proceeds to tell me his "story". Oskar is his name and he is from Finland. I can see he is troubled so I say nothing but listen. He tells me he and his wife come to Tenerife every year for a winter holiday. They enjoy the winter getaway but this time it went array. Oskar's wife became seriously ill and after few days had to be hospitalized. She got some sort of lung infection, and had to stay in the hospital for 2 weeks. In this period, she lost all motivation and of course Oskar was helpless. One morning he wakes up and sets off to the hospital like he has been routinely doing for 2 weeks. However this time his ankle is severely swollen and he cannot walk! He too gets admitted to the hospital and has to stay a few days to get it all sorted out. Meanwhile the couple who have been married Over 40 years are laying side by side in hospital beds. He, of course, is now beside himself. Eventually they discharge him, but his wife must stay until she is deemed fit enough to leave as well as cleared to fly back to Finland. All the while as he is telling me this, his eyes well up and the tears begin to flow. He is clearly heartbroken, worried and most of all in need of a listening ear. I understood it ALL to well. I know what it's like to ave the "rug pulled out from you" and the need solely to express yourself.
After listening, I shared my own story of why I was there, what steps I am taking to move forward and of course made him giggle by pointing out the irony that at least they got to share te same hospital room. We smiled, we laughed and we shared many stories of our histories. He shared his passion for motorcycling and I knew he understood my love of the bike.
We had a nice dinner together and he left saying that when this wife was cleared he was returning to Finland, retiring from his job and spending his precious time doing what he loved again. (Motorcycling, spending time awith his wife and traveling).
The following evening when I went to the hotel restaurant, I did not see Oskar. Immediately I was concerned. Perhaps he was at the hospital all day! I tried to stay positive. About a 1/2 hour later, Oskar and a white haired heavyset woman who looked just like him came strolling to my table. I jumped up! She was his wife and out and cleared! Yippee, some stories DO have a happy ending. They were holding hands and smiling ear to ear.
Before they left he stopped, thanked me and gave me a hug. He looked me in eye and I knew what he felt. For one small moment I was able to be his "Angel" . Really all I did was nothing more than listen, encourage and give him positive energy but that was all he needed.
As I sit here alone at the beach, I know my Angels are looking after me. I am healing but have a long way to go. One step at a time. My heart is heavy but stays open....