Wednesday, June 9, 2010


"Jane, what are you doing today?" Lucy's voice was sing-songy, like it always was when she was really excited.

My stomach squeezed a little bit. I closed my eyes, afraid of the worst possible news. "Not much. Why? What do you have in mind?" I tried to sound teasing, but I felt ill. I longed for her not to say the words that would leave me alone on an island of loneliness.

"It's big," she continued to sing into the phone, obviously undeterred by my stomach spasms. "And you are going to be my right hand woman!" She began laughing. I felt bile rising in my throat. "So, get your stuff on and meet me at the gym. We'll run the track for a bit and then sit down and have one of those delicious Smoothies from the little bar. I'll fill you in on the details then."

I closed my eyes. "Sounds great. What time?" She knew I hated the gym. I didn't fit in there. Heck! I didn't fit most places. My girth had been expanding slowly ever since I graduated from college. Over the last 10 years, I had put on probably 50 pounds. It didn't seem like much from year to year, but the over all affect could certainly be seen and felt.

"I'm already in my car." The glee in her voice burst through the end of the telephone. "See you soon," she sang in closing. A small click followed and then silence.

Twenty minutes later I was at the gym watching runners circle around the track. My shirt hung limp around my body attempting to mask my true size. My hair was pulled into a ponytail. I hated wearing it that way, it made me feel like I had chipmunk cheeks. Lucy tapped my shoulder. "Hey gorgeous," she said, reaching over and hugging me. "Glad you're here. Let's get moving." With that, we were on the track and making our way around.

Lucy loves to run, swim, bike, hike, surf, and any other activity that requires great amounts of physical exertion. She looked fabulous in her little lycra-spandex clothing. There were no lumps or bumps anywhere on her toned body. She actually met her boyfriend whens he took a Master swimmer's class last year. They were largely inseparable and I had been missing our TV and popcorn nights a great deal. She was the only single friend I had left.

After speed walking the track for about a mile, I begged for a break. "Time for that Smoothie yet?" I asked, my breath coming ragged.

She looked at me, concentration pulling her face tight, her arms pumping fiercely to add in more movement because my pace was too slow for her. "Almost," she said setting all kidding to the side for later. "You're good. We can do another lap or two."

Five laps later, she finally relented and I found myself stumbling to the bar. We'd been on the track for about 40 minutes. I was exhausted. My chest hurt from the hammering of my heart. My stomach clenched again as we neared the bar and I remembered there was a greater purpose to my presence at the gym. "Strawberry Banana, large please." I lobbed my order to the staff behind the counter and then plunked into the chair.

"What's up Lucy..." I started to say and then noticed the two sheets of paper she was sliding to me. We'd stopped by the locker room to pickup her bag on the way to the bar. 'There's something in it I want to show you,' she had started to sing.

I prepared to see the engagement pictures and the newspaper announcement she was going to submit. I would have to ask how he had proposed and when. I choked on air when I saw the registration forms for a 5K race in 10 weeks. One copy had her name on it, no feat for her. The other had my name on it. It would be a miracle if I could do anything like it in my lifetime. "It's to support research on Fibromyalgia. It's the first of its kind I have seen. It's a big deal for you," she paused, "and for me. My best friend has it and it has affected the last 10 years of her life. She's kind of given up and I want to see that changed."

I sat stunned. I knew she was talking about me. I wanted to do cartwheels, but my limbs simply didn't work that way. Everything she said was true. It was a big deal. I had never seen anything like it. A tear slid down my face. I was torn. I couldn't possibly be ready in time, yet I couldn't say no either. I sat quietly, absorbing the information and all the little ways this would affect me whether I did it or not. "I can't do it without you," she said quietly. "You are the key piece. You are more ready than you think. It's only been one day of training and you made it a mile and a half already. You don't need to set a world record, but I think you have to try."

"I have to try," I whispered. I took the pen she had handed me and held it in mid air. I had to try, but could I do it?