As you get older your memory has a way of waking up and reminding you of things in the past. Many years ago as a new paddler I was at an event in the sign up line - nervous as all get out. Surrounded by years of experience and knowledge. Pretty sure I had a rookie sign tattooed to my forehead.
As it came closer to my turn to sign the waver that says “you may die. And its not our fault if you do.” my ears caught the words “Cash only.” - Gah. Things were not looking promising. Mostly because - only had a card.
My turn and who should be sitting behind the table signing people in - Tran. I had never met her and as I started to tell my sob story about only having a card, and rookie and I’m a dork. She did the one thing I didn’t expect.
She smiled. Laughed and then turned around, reached into her bag and pulled out enough for my entry. “That should cover it. Go race! Have fun.”
Today I rounded the corner and again saw the same smiling face I had met years ago. A bit more cautious and nervous than before - the line of racers were now doctors doing rounds and nurses checking in.
You see - the light that makes her smile bright - is having a bit of a rough go at the moment. Big words and procedures, tense moments and confusion. The word cancer. It has a way of trying to suck all the light out of you.
But have you ever met Q?
Calm. Comforting. Determined. Focused. Oozing with so much aloha that when you enter the room you want to leave your slippers at the door and stay for awhile. Talk story and dream of paddling adventures.
We shake hands - howzit?
You can see the spark in his eyes. Even the one with a patch. Q answers “when I can get this pain stuff figured out, it will be good.” - it was mater of fact. Not if. But when.
It is almost like you could hear his heart saying to his brain - “why don’t you rest a spell and let me do the thinking for this next little bit.”
I glanced over at Tran and you could see as Q talked - that light that makes her smile is shining brighter than ever.