"I won't be here for the Olympics...." A look of sadness swept across my mother's face. An eerie silence filled the room. All eyes were on her. No one knew quite what to say. The reality that God was calling her home had settled in.
My mother was well aware that in less than two months she would no longer be with us. The doctor's had confirmed the cancer would take her in six to eight weeks. Such a short time. She had run the race that God had set before her. She was prepared to receive her great reward in heaven.
But who knew that on that warm sunny day in August of 2009 my mother would be grieving over something such as sports. Between needles that helped mask her pain she was thinking about the Olympics. They seemed to muddy the atmosphere. I watched as she shifted her frail body in a bed that swallowed her up each time she got in. Getting comfortable wasn't easy. Even the bed creaked and moaned as if it felt the weight of her agony.
In the meantime I tried to push her comment to the back of my mind. I was grieving the days ahead of me...the ones that would leave me without her. I'd grown up in house where sports didn't make the family go round. It seemed a bit odd to me that she felt the way she did.
She had already reflected on her life. She'd put things into perspective really. "I've lived a good life. I've watched my children grow up and have children of their own. I know where I'm going," she declared a few days before. I guess it only made sense that she would be thinking about other things. And now the Olympics seemed very important to her; important enough that she felt compelled to share her sorrow.
Skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding and skating had crept into her mind leaving little room that day for the joy of a different prize; one we all knew she believed was waiting for her. It's true, none of us truly knows what we might be thinking about when we're facing the end of our journey on earth, leaving behind all that we know and love.
But winter was so far away. Nowhere on the horizon. Invisible to me. And in the days leading up to our good-bye's I never once considered -- her love for watching the Olympic games.
I was absorbed in my own thoughts. A continuous display of pictures click-clacked in my mind capturing many wonderful moments of her life. I could see her wearing a fifties style dress on the day of her wedding. A nearby lamp photo bombed her. It appeared as if she were wearing the lampshade on her head as a part of her outfit. I laughed inside. Another click and she was holding my children in her arms reaping the rewards of a grandmother. The array of memories stopped with a simple candy dish. A dish that rested on her coffee table. Nestled inside were her favourite candies in an assortment of colours. Red, green, yellow, orange and of course her favourite -- black . Those jube jubes always beckoned me. I just wasn't ready to let her go. Not at all.
When the winter games made their way to television. I knew my mother would have been thrilled to witness two hundred and six Canadian athletes compete in 2010 taking home fourteen gold, seven silver, and five bronze medals.
As I write this, Canadian athletes are participating in the Summer Olympics being hosted in Rio. Once again, I can hear my mother's voice, "I won't be here for the Olympics."
It's true, she isn't one of the billions of people glued to their television these days. Even so, I feel her presence with me in a special way. A way that makes me smile.
Next month marks the 7th anniversary of her death and I think about her everyday.
"Grief never ends....But it changes. It's a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith....It is the price for love."
A dedicated fan of the Olympics to the very end.