Darkness has set heavy in the north country. My lovely Minnesota town is dark when I leave for work and dark when I come home. It’s a tough time of year, mostly I power through. I busy myself with as much basketball and frigid outdoor adventures as possible with hopes the distractions will keep me feeling upbeat and energized. Right now, however, I feel tired, and can’t shake this feeling of sad. While it may be the weather, and I’m sure that’s a part, it’s the loss of a good friend that weighs so heavy.
About four years ago I met a man who joined my training program, he looked so unassuming. He quietly introduced himself, and I proceeded to ask him a handful of typical fitness questions. I always find myself pre-guessing the answers with new clients and, with him, I got none of them correct. His fitness experience was vast, shockingly so. Geez laweez, I asked if he’d been active and he quickly rattled off a couple dozen of his most recent feats. He acted like none of them were a big deal. Dozens of marathons, climbs, bikes, triathlons, paddles, swims, honestly I nodded my head to his answers, but I think my mouth hung wide open. Later I would see him challenge clients half his age in push ups, plank holds, and wall sits. Never did he waiver in his strength, and not once would you see him chest puffed and cocky. He would gently encourage everyone around him, quick to introduce himself to the rookies and eager to throw a little jab at the veterans, just to keep them honest.
I’m not sure I could count his kind acts. He was eager to share how wonderful other people were, constantly cheerleading and genuinely seeing the best in others. I had to carefully partner him during push up stacks or partner rows. He would fall so deeply into conversations that no matter my volume, he was oblivious to my direction. I would have to walk over to him, and gently pat his shoulder, he would then glance over with a knowing grin and sheepishly say sorry. I would return a solid side-eye…he wasn’t all that sorry – he loved people. He was the sort of person who owned the phrase “love the one your with”. Clients that preferred distraction for their workout gravitated towards him, others had to create distance for fear of getting sucked in. His presence was always felt and is terribly missed.
Just a year after working with him he sent me a dainty blue Tiffany coffee cup. Now, I knew he sent that to all his financial clients, but that fact, made it no less special. I have never had a gift from Tiffany’s and it made me feel extra fancy. For a girl with callused hands who spends most of her days in sweaty stretch clothes, the cup, despite my mell of a hess appearance, makes me feel more polished and put together. To this day, I still have the white ribbon-wrapped blue box it came in, it sits proudly on my desk overstuffed with multicolor sharpies, misc promo pens, and blank note cards waiting to be written. He made people feel special.
Tim, or Timmer as I called him, left a legacy any of us would wish for. He found joy including the odd man out, camping on the ice, or chasing his son through the grocery store. Each moment was a story waiting to be told. The more drama, and disfunction the better. The last story he told me was a serious giggler. It happened post bladder surgery. Most would think it’s a story only privately shared, but he hoped it would be published in special urology magazine. Only he would find excitement at the hint of a leak from his bag in below zero temps. I’m sure he laughed out loud as he took off his layers standing naked, moments from frost bite, repairing the leak and at the same time putting together the tale would later be told. I hope my stories are as good some day, I hope I am eternally upbeat, and I hope in the face of a health challenge I can find the courage to be as brave and kind as him until the very end.