Tag Archives: Speed Skating

Minutiae #7: Yari

UnknownI remember him as a child quite well. White blonde hair, small, determined young boy. He and his brother joined the skating club years ago. Yari took to skating differently than his brother. He was serious and focused and train-able as people like to say. His brother skated but not in the same way. And soon Yari rose through the ranks, competing, growing, focussing and then I blinked and he was off to Calgary to train. And in the summers he would come back to the club and run our dry land sessions. Even then he was tough and serious even though we were a rag tag group of skaters of all ages, including my partner who was well into her 70’s at that point. He ran dry land like we were real skaters.

And one summer he brought a girl who would become his wife. And she and I would hang around the back laughing and talking, and Yari would look up and smile and then tell us to get down and do our endless low walks across the grassy field under the hot summer sun. And while it was clear that I wasn’t going anywhere with my skating he always had the time of day for me. And sometimes he would say something that was just plain funny. And spot on. And that’s when you could see the funny guy behind the focused young man.

I remember he came back for a few seasons to coach and I always wanted to do better because in spite of my lack of natural ability and the numerous fears that held me back, he still gave me his all. But it wasn’t just me he gave his all to, it was everyone. He gave everyone his all.

I saw him this March at the BC Championships. He was the referee. We said a quick hello because he was busy. I heard that he and his wife had gone their separate ways. That he had become a lawyer and that he lived in Calgary. That he had spent a few difficult years but he was happy now.  I heard he had fallen in love with a woman and a little boy. That they were the centre of his universe and that he was a devoted step-father to this little boy. And I imagine Yari in all his generosity and kindness and capacity to give, being an amazing person to the little boy in his life. I heard that they were the apple of his eye and that they were to be married in July this year. I had heard that as a lawyer when things got tough he would lighten things up by wearing colourful socks or ties or jackets and that he had picked a spectacular jacket for his wedding.

And then I heard that one week before his wedding he suffered a terrible headache. It was blinding and relentless and like nothing he had felt before even though he was familiar with migraines. So he brought his little boy to his neighbour’s house and called an ambulance.

One day this summer the phone rang. It was my best friend  who had called to say she had something to tell me and that she wanted me to hear it from her and then she told me that Yari had passed away. And it shook me to my core. It shook me. Not because I knew him so well. I didn’t at all. He was a ship passing by in my life. I cried because he had given me something. I cried because he was so young – 37. I cried because his wedding, the happiest day of his life in the end became a celebration of the passing of his life. I cried because I didn’t know how to grieve for someone that wasn’t my immediate family but who had touched my life with his generosity and his passion for a crazy sport. A sport he believed in passionately, a sport he gave so generously of his time to. A sport that he helped young people and old people  and all kinds of people in between, excel in, taking each of us as seriously as though he were training us for the Canadian national team. He made me reach higher – try harder. Speed skating, a sport that gave me confidence when I had none. An ounce of the confidence that this sport has given me in life belongs to Yari who helped me get there.

I have only known three people in my life who left far too young. Sometimes when I’m out walking I say their names out loud – Lori Brown, Scott Wilson. I blow their names out to the wind hoping that those lives will be scattered to the earth, carried by the wind, embedded in the dirt, carried away to beautiful places. I say those names to confirm that they were indeed here. I say their names as an act of remembrance so I never forget. And now when I walk I say Yari’s name in the hope that a young person who left us far too early and who gave so many, so much, will always be remembered and embraced. Yari.

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The Torture of Indecision – To Skate or Not to Skate That is the Question

ImageIn the absence of my ability to make any kind of decision myself, I will leave it up to you dear readers to lead me out of my current ruffled mental state. What exactly is this kerfuffle about?

It’s about this. Every September I make my way twice a week with my speed skates  to the local rink to skate with my group.  But I didn’t go this year because Reub was sick and I wanted to spend time with my guy and because I was also taking classes.

The problem is now that I can skate I don’t seem to be able to get there. I pack my gear, bring it to work and then spend the day agonizing about whether I should go or not. And when I say agonize I mean agonize. It’s killing me. And I still haven’t gone which means another week of going through this. While others solve world problems my mind  is going in circles (small ones at that).

Snap Shot of the Circular Mind:

I’m going skating. I’m going skating FOR SURE.  It’ll make me feel great.

Na – you’ll get cold.

But think how much you’ll laugh .

No you won’t. Talking to all those people you haven’t seen for a while will be exhausting. All that exercise will make you tired.

But you love Agatha and the gang.

I dunno, my back is sore. And my office is so cold I have icicles hanging from my nose.

Forget it, you’ll warm up. You’ll be pulling layers off in seconds.

I can’t remember the last time I sharpened my skates, I might kill myself.

Remember what Jokelee said. Skip the negative stuff and take your brain straight to the reward. The high. She’s always right (older sisters almost always are – I sure wish younger sister would make note of this).

I know what I’ll do, I’ll get in the car and drive. If I end up at the arena then I’ll skate. If I don’t well then I’ll do Jillian Michaels and almost die from my 20 minute ridiculous work out.

Forget it.  You’ll see Diane there. You love Diane. She might even do up your skates for you.

Ah yes I know but I forgot my water bottle.

You can buy one there.

You forgot…I’m against the water bottle.

Well, admit it then, you’re nervous because you haven’t skated for awhile.

No that’s not it.  It’s the cold thing. The coldest office in the world, the one that makes your nails blue is killing all desire to skate around in circles at break neck speed.

Breakneck is a bit of an exaggeration don’t you think?

You’re right. It’s not exactly breakneck is it?

I know what I’ll do, I’ll ask the first person I see and see what they say.

They said go skating. But when they left they said, “Have a nice evening at home” as if they knew that I wouldn’t go.

So I’m not going.

And so on and so on and so on. And I still haven’t gone. And seriously. I’m not going to be happy until I go. I just need to get there. I’m not like this with everything but I’m definitely in a rut with this one. Someone just strap on my skates and get me some ice.

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