A Dreary Forecast Broken By Rays Of Sunshine

     After last night’s heavy deluge of rain, the morning was setting out to be dark and dreary. I stepped into the kitchen, opened the blinds, and the morning confirmed my expectation: the sun was concealed behind the grey clouds. Seeing as it was autumn and we live in Coquitlam, British Columbia, the rain and overcast days are an unavoidable fact of our regular fall weather. I went about my usual routine, making breakfasts, packing lunches and bags, brewing coffee, and setting keys out on the countertop, ready for my husband to head off to school, to teach his students the beauty of literature.

     I finished sweeping the floor and placed the broom and dust-pan back on the hooks in the garage. My lower back was very sore, so I decided to go into the living room and check emails. I turned on the television and the laptop computer. While reading and deleting, my face began to feel warm on one cheek. I looked towards the window, a bright light appeared through the blinds. Rays of sunshine were breaking through the darkness outside, forcing the grey clouds out of its way. The sun was making its presence known and the dreariness was dissipating. Usually, after the house is clean, I head off to the gym for a workout. However, this morning my back was too sore for an intense gym workout; I needed rest to recover the injured area. Today, a long walk at Lafarge lake would suffice for cardio, especially since the day was looking and feeling more like a beautiful spring day rather than a cold, wet fall day.

     I began making calculations in my head; how many laps around the lake to complete twelve miles and how long should it take? Sixteen laps would be sufficient, and it could be done in around two hours, with a fast pace. Many people were also enjoying a nature walk on this unusual autumn day. The trail was crowded with people, each having their own walking goals in mind. However, a couple of laps in and most seemed to leave. After walking six or seven laps I saw a few of the same faces. Passing one another, smiles were exchanged showing we’d indeed seen one another, and acknowledging we had been walking long. On rare occasions, I will smile at the same faces for ten or twelve times. On this day, there was an elderly man who outwalked most people. After my fourteenth lap, I noticed him leaving. We smiled at each other, in a manner expressing goodbye without words. Being so impressed with his ability to walk for so long, I decided to congratulate him.

     I learned his name – rather fittingly – was Ray. I told him how impressed I was with his walking speed and duration. I also knew from my own personal experience, living with severe Crohn’s disease for many years, he was walking with purpose, not just the mere enjoyment of nature. He joined me for the final two laps and shared his story. This “Ray of sunshine” smiled joyfully, as he declared that walking is part of his therapy. He recounted, how at the age of sixty-six his doctors diagnosed him with severe pancreatic cancer, along with skin cancer. He was scheduled for surgery but, would need much rehabilitation and medication afterward. Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t give him much hope either; his stage of cancer was dire. He beamed describing his refusal to quit on his life. Despite not being a great fan of reading, he began doing his own research. One of the first books he read, mistakenly thinking it was a religious book, because of its title, was How Not To Die. To Ray’s surprise, it was a book on nutrition. He immediately incorporated its principles into his life. Then, given an article by a friend about the positive effects of cayenne pepper for both good health and fighting cancer, he added cayenne into his routine. After some time, he returned to his doctor to have his prostate levels checked again. The doctor gasped at the results. Ray’s levels dropped extremely low, which meant he was doing better and winning his fight. Out of curiosity, the doctor asked him what he’d changed. Ray explained it was a bit of faith, helpful reading, changes in nutrition, and more exercise. According to the results, this new lifestyle had him on a healthier path.

     We came to the staircase near the parking lot, I pulled out my keys. Before we parted ways, I asked: “how long has it been?” Ray smiled. “I’m seventy-six! I’ve lived ten more years than the doctor said and I’m still going strong with many sunny days ahead in my forecast.” A dreary day turned into Rays of sunshine!