The last swim

I've possibly mentioned before that swimming wasn't one of Hillary's greatest joys in life. I'm not sure when it changed or if that was always the case. I know she fondly remembered and told me about times she swam in the lake with her grandmother. I got the impression that was a pretty regular occurrence.

She wasn't a bad swimmer either or anything. She was pretty strong, but absolutely hated to get her face wet. Also, she didn't like being wet and cold, both things that you could guarantee you'd be feeling by the end of any swim.

My parents generally close their pool on the Labour Day weekend unless this falls in the middle of a heatwave. Labour Day weekend in 2018 was no different so we were down in White Rock for a couple of days. My parents did what they always did when Hillary was going to be down there and made sure the temperature of the pool was suitably high.

They did this before she had cancer. It greatly increased the likelihood that she'd get in. The summer of 2018, the pool was even warmer. She didn't actually get in very often though.

June 2015. Teaching Isaac to swim.

So anyway, it was the evening of September 3rd. We had had dinner and were having an evening swim before heading back to Burnaby. You have to get the last swim in as late as possible. It's kind of a tradition.

Anyway, the water was super warm and I talked to Hillary about going in, even for a short bit. She was reticent, but I was pretty insistent. Even if she just got in for a few minutes and loitered near the stairs, it would be a thing. Symbolic if nothing else.

She got in. And not terribly long after that, got out in fairly severe pain. She hadn't just taken it easy in the shallow end. She'd overdone it and moved a bit more than she should have.

I felt utterly horrible.

I apologized and helped her dry and get dressed. We packed up the kids when they were done and went home. Everyone fell asleep in the car as I drove. I carried the kids up the three flights of stairs and dumped them into bed. Hillary, as she always did once she was unable to carry the kids, apologized to me for not being able to take one of them.

I apologized to her again the next day about pushing her to swim when we were all more alert and awake.

Her response, "No. Don't feel bad about it, the pain was going to happen and I'm so glad I got in with the kids, even for that short bit."

September 3, 2018. She died thirty four days later. She swam with the kids four and a half weeks before that day. I dunno. That's goddamned impressive.

That was my Hillary.