Wading Through It

This is my new swim normal: the walk wade. Wade walk? Typing the name reminds me of a tap dance teacher I had growing up. We called him Mr. Wade. He was incredibly thin, incredibly effeminate, and incredibly cool. He never liked me. I found tap dancing too loud for my 10-year-old taste.

I ran into him a few years ago selling cars at a Lexus dealership. His name tag just said Wade on it, no mister, no glitter. He was impeccably dressed, and could’ve shuffled off to Buffalo in his smart Italian shoes if only I’d asked. 

So much wrong happening here with the anklets and choker. But please note rebellious absence of tap shoes.

It’s now the third week in April, the world is still in COVID19 lock down, and I am nearly two weeks post-surgery for my cancer. 

Glad to have it behind me. The toughest bit was walking into the hospital to face surgery completely alone. Pandemic restrictions allowed no one in except patients.

My amazing husband watched me go from the car. Halfway across the hospital skybridge I turned around and gave him a brave wave. Then I grabbed my right breast, in a final salute before its ultimate sacrifice, and I did a little stomp-ball-change dance for him down the walkway.

How do you survive the mental challenges of cancer? Doing crazy shit like dancing and waving your righty at a parked car in the middle of a hospital skybridge. It also keeps people guessing if your tears are borne of fear or laughter. 

I’ve found a mix of the two is perfect.

Swimming is not in the cards for me for another three weeks, hence the wade walk/walk wade along the shore while my swim buddies are out in the waves. A friend asked me if it was hard to show up for the swims but not get in. Would it be easier to not go at all?

I thought about that for a bit.  After awhile, I realized there were three components that made my swims soul-fulfilling: the swimming itself, the people, and the beach. By just showing up, I could get two of the three. And two is better than none, especially when you’re on a healing tirade. 

Plus, wading is hard work! I was hoping to step it up to a jog after I’m cleared to raise my heart rate. But with the risk factors of sinking sand and heavily barnacled rocks, I could easily end up badly concussing myself, or worse. And how would that look? 

“She survived cancer, but died from head injuries caused by an overly strenuous wade.” 

Humiliating. Tragic.

But also hilarious. Like life. Like waving your boob and imitating a really bad stripper on a hospital skybridge. Like wearing the loudest costume on stage and trying to tap dance quietly. 

–TJ Wiley Forsyth

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