Today I heard some sad news. A woman who was a fitness class teacher at the Natatorium passed away after a battle with leukemia. I didn’t know her well, but just from taking her classes I could tell she was a really strong but sweet person and a fellow believer in Jesus.
She would always count down to zero. So if you think you’re doing ten reps, you’re really doing eleven. And she’d say, “You can do anything for one minute!” From her I realized that women can exercise at a challenging intensity throughout pregnancy. Another fitness instructor told a story about how as a student Allie would beg her basketball coaches for the chance to stay and work a little longer after practice was over. If only I had such a work ethic.
She handed over teaching the class after having her third baby but was still around the gym as a personal trainer. Even though I didn’t know her well she’d still show an interest in me when we crossed paths. When I walked the track for a week instead of actually working out she asked me how I was and if I was still going to class. I was pregnant, spotting, and nervous but I told her my knee was bothering me. She also was the first to ask if I was pregnant with Simon. Such a question can be risky business especially since I didn’t show for a while, but I think the tight tank & me reading Giving Birth With a Nurse-Midwife on the cardio machines gave it away. She also asked about the baby when I returned to the gym for a couple months after Simon was born.
Just a few months after my membership ended, she found out she had leukemia. I found out year later through another fitness teacher when she emailed the link to Allie’s blog. At first there was some hope of recovery as she went through various treatments and drug trials. Recently she made it clear it was only a matter of time. When I’d sporadically check her blog I’d hold my breath as it loaded, hoping it wouldn’t be a post from her husband giving bad news, but realizing someday that would be the case.
Today at exercise class our teacher told us. Of course basically everyone was tearing up. Allie was 32, married, and had three little girls. Her blog was always so hopeful, not necessarily for recovery but for enjoying her remaining time with her family and for heaven. She often ended her posts with a verse and recently shared Job 19:25: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” I’m in the middle of reading Job in my Bible reading plan and it’s just amazing that Job, and Allie, were able to pronounce their confidence in God while He allowed them suffer. Because of her confidence in her redeemer’s goodness and ultimate power, her writing also exuded gratitude in the midst of her deteriorating health.
I can’t even pretend that I would handle such a crisis with her strength, hope, and gratitude. But it is so comforting to know that our redeemer lives and cares for us and we’ll be with Him one day. Of course death always gives perspective on life and the little “trials” and trivialities I worry about. And it reminds of our purpose to share the good news of our redeemer with more and more people. I know I’ll forget about these insights and lose perspective all too soon (probably while making dinner in an hour), but I hope to remember these convictions frequently without having to hear such sad news and to rejoice in knowing my redeemer lives.