"Time and health are two precious assets that we don't recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted." -Denis Waitley
It was now going into mid-December and the next agenda was to book a videographer and photographer, which both Peter and I went throughout many to find the perfect ones Dana wanted, a.k.a. the most expensive and yet professional company from New York itself.
Other than those gatherings, I hadn’t seen Peter. And you think it would be the same for Oliver with the holidays around the corner, he would be too tired with the constant appointments and emergency calls.
But I was wrong.
He made time for me so we could have an exercise session at five o’clock in the morning.
God, I wish I could just sleep in instead. My inner voice had repeated over and over, but out loud I tried to convince myself. I muttered in my bed, “This is great. I’m getting into shape.”
could move out of my warm cozy bed as I hit my alarm for seven. Thankfully, Saturday’s we started later and
Sunday’s was my off day. “One more day,”
I chanted while stretching my body out.
I glanced down at my un-cast leg.
I had to admit it was tempting to break my ankle again after my third
week with dating my own cardio trainer.
Oliver was here.
Grasping my bag with my gym clothes and deodorant, I rolled out of bed with the fresh change of clothes I put on last night. Swiping the Gatorade bottle and jacket off the counter, I rushed down the porch stairs and entered his car.
Oliver smiled over cheery as I glimpsed at his amazing physique in awe. Today he was just wearing a snug tank shirt that displayed his fit arms and his silk shorts held tone calves.
After a few moments of silence, we made it to the gym and as ritual we got onto our bikes. Gazing over to Oliver setting up my routine, I could still remember him telling me to take my break while he did some chin ups, and when I mean chin ups, I mean bare rippling chest pull ups. I was so red in my cheeks and bashfully at how comfortable he was to take off his shirt in front of me.
A part of me did wish now he meant cardio practice in another way. Not the gym.
“Alexia?” I blinked my eyes absentmindedly before my head could register what Oliver said. Giving a small chuckle he repeated, “I think you’re ready to step it up. Ready for the next level of difficulty?”
I nodded my head briskly, trying to brace myself for what was to come. Clicking the timer on, I start to pedal and Oliver did the same with his bike, only on a much more expert level.
Within five minutes, I knew I want to die. To give up. I was sweating like a pig and deep down I knew this could no way be sexy at all. My eyes shifted over to Oliver releasing and inhaling his breath like a champ, pumping his legs at ease. He thrived on exercise and I craved for my bed.
Focus, I told myself. You are not lazy in anyway. I could do this. To have that happy ever after ending, I needed to sacrifice some of myself to be with my true soulmate.
And for awhile, I felt pretty good until my bike began to shift into a harder gear and I was literally struggling to pedal.
This was it. I was going to die, I thought with only a slight sarcasm.
Oliver’s eye suddenly peeked over to me in surprise, probably by my red beat face, and waved for me to stop. Picking my feet up, I let the pedals spin on their own, and placed my face onto the handles. Oliver replied patting my back, “Okay break time. I paused the timer so we can continue after you catch your breath.”
I nodded my head even though deep down I knew I was done. There was no way in hell I could finish this. I be having a heart attack on the floor. I glanced over to Oliver thinking, good thing he’s a cardiovascular doctor huh?
“I’m going to go to the bathroom,” I said as my jelly legs tried to balance my unsteady body. When I was finally in my sanctuary, I sat on top of the counter and rest my forehead against the cool wall.
You can’t do this anymore, my brain was yelling at me. And I knew my inner gut was right. I needed to escape without looking like a wienie for leaving.
Pulling my phone out my pocket, I bit my lip at my sudden plan. My sweaty head shook at my mental idea as I whispered, “I have too.”
Dialing the phone, Peter finally picked up after a few rings.
“Hello?” His voice seemed a little sluggish.
I probably just woke him up.
“Peter, it’s Alexia. I was wondering if you could do me a huge favor and call me in two minutes and make me an excuse to get out of this boot camp.”
“What will I-”
“I don’t care. Please.” I begged and he replied solemnly, “Okay.” And without another word, Peter hung up on me.
Staring at my phone, I was surprised by his sudden clipped tone.
Heck he didn't even say goodbye. It really didn’t seem like the Peter I knew, I pondered slightly taken aback.
Dropping back to the ground, I made my way to the work out area to see Oliver waiting patiently. I should just be a grown up and tell him I’m done.
But that was easier said than done, I thought. Why was I having a hard time telling him how I felt?
Sighing before entering the door way, I marched over to Oliver. “You feel okay to keep going?” He asked concerned and I knew that was my way out. But my stupid pride was getting the better of me.
“Yeah, I’m good,” I responded and he smiled back pleased. I liked making him pleased.
You sit there in your heartache. Waiting on a beautiful boy to save you….
I glanced to my phone pretending to be surprised and said, “It’s Peter. I’ll put him on speaker while we exercise. Probably wedding issues.”
Pressing the speaker button, I answered, “Hello?”
His voice seemed still different.
Was he getting a congested cold?
I asked, “What’s up?” I began to pedal when Peter was now very quiet on the line. “Peter?” I asked confused slowing down my steps.
Why was he making this more dramatic than it had to be?
Again I asked annoyed, “Peter what’s wrong?”
“My mom died.”
Almost tumbling off the bike, I raced to turn off the speaker and responded shock, “What?”
Peter was unable to speak as he squeezed out, “Yeah, she passed away last night.”
Grabbing my bag and coat, I check the schedule to see the bus should be at the pickup area at any moment. I said, “I’ll be there in a second.” Hanging up, my head shifted to Oliver and I told him, “I’m going to see Peter.”
“Do you want me to give you a ride?” Oliver asked ready to get off his bike and I shook my head.
“No, you just continue your work out. I’ll get the bus.”
I didn’t leave room to argue because I honestly needed to think alone and so I ran out the gym and down to the bus station.
How could Peter say that? I don’t think Peter would make up a lie that dark. This was his sweet mother that we were talking about. How could she have die? Especially at such a young age yet?
The bus pulled up and I pressed my coat closer to me as I sat down waiting for my stop. My hands began to shake being so anxious while sitting on the bus.
I just couldn’t imagine his pain. How could I ASKED for such a dumb demand before?
Finally after fifteen minutes, I got out of the bus and made my way to his apartment that we did some previous wedding planning.
As I raced up the stairs with my legs burning, I pushed faster to get to Peter. Panting when the door was before me, I hesitated to knock. Releasing a heavy sigh, I tried to brace myself as I knocked on his door.
I called slight out of breath, “Peter?”
Still no answer and by instinct I grasped the brass door knob and turned it. The door opened and I poked my head into the kitchen.
Quietly closing the door, I practically tip toed on the wooden floors and searched the room everywhere until I stepped into the living room. Curled up on the couch, Peter laid with eyes shut and his chest heaving silently.
Bending down slowly in front of him, I stroked his blond hair from his face. His red blood shot eyes open up at me and for once I finally understood what Peter meant when someone eyes could practically open their whole soul to you in one blink.
Speechless as I was, I pulled him into a tight hug and didn’t let go. I wouldn’t until he wanted too.
Peter could barely say with his voice cracking, “I knew she was recently doing badly, but I didn’t think….”
The way he was talking it sounded like she was sick or something, I deducted to myself.
“I thought I at least get to say goodbye.” A tear seemed to escape my cheek seeing Peter in such anguish. I just wished I could suddenly sweep this pain away. But the only thing I seemed able to do was rubbed his back soothingly.
Peter tried to pull himself together and drew away a little bit from my hug. He informed me, “My dad set the date for the funeral. It’s this week.”
“Isn’t there going to be a wake as well?” I ask softly.
I was pretty sure that’s what Catholics did.
Peter cleared his throat while wiping his wet eyes, “There’s a brief viewing before we go to mass and then the cemetery. My dad doesn’t want to drag it on more than a day.”
Grabbing a tissue, the ones I bought for him last week because I didn’t want to use toilet paper rolls he had been substituting for his nose, I handed it over to Peter. I said placing his cold hand into mine, “I’m sorry Peter. I’m really sorry.”
His brown eyes trained on me as I continued to say, “If you like, I’ll come with you back home.”
My stomach tightened at the thought, a place I had been avoiding since I moved away.
A small smile enveloped his sadden face at my offered support, but Peter shook his head, “What about work-”
“I’ll call my boss and give him a heads up I’m taking off this one week,” I rebuttal and Peter one eyebrow rose up.
He asked unsure, “What about Oliver?”
I place a finger on his soft lips and whispered, “I’m going with you. You have had my back since I walked out that bar. It’s my turn to take care of you.”