“You’re good to go,” said Tyrol seated behind the Plexiglas screen, his expansive chocolate eyes studying me over his mask. “And you’ll need this to get in,” he added handing me the card for the scanner on the nearby counter. I breathed easier, the afternoon sunshine bathing the foyer in light behind me. My admission to the YMCA was free with my Silver Sneakers eligibility. 

“Thanks for your help. You’ll never know,” I said smiling and inserting the card into my wallet.

True, I still have a terminal illness, Interstitial Lung Disease with Rheumatoid Arthritis; its progression, unpredictable. Since November 2019, the hospice nurses have counseled, “Just wait and take care of yourself. We’ll be back next week.” And they continue to come, noting signs of my decline in their computers: Evidence of my eighty-five + years unraveling my youthfulness. Then, I got tired of waiting for I knew not what.

In January 2021, I begin short walks in the neighborhood, with my helper’s support and my cane. How I relished the warmth of the sun, telltale signs of greening, and neighbors walking their dogs, having been housebound for so long.

With last week’s return of humidity, though, my spirit sank. In no way could I breathe. I needed an air-conditioned venue to continue my daily walks.

How I was led to the Silver Sneakers and the nearby YMCA is another story. Once inside, though, my crimped airways opened and relaxed. Lightness filled my lungs. My gait felt more steadfast, with less dependence upon my cane and none upon my helper, who followed me around the facility largely empty, save for a handful of seniors.

This will work, if I let it, one day at a time.