Ian’s three-day competition is a most welcome distraction. The four of us will spend pretty much the entire weekend on the site. It is still morning when we get there. The sun is out, yet it is not too hot. The perfect weather. The site is buzzing with riders, their family and friends. Horses are everywhere. Competitions are ongoing in multiple arenas in parallel.
Despite COVID infections decreasing, I’m somewhat concerned. “If I will need surgery, better not have it postponed due to a COVID infection, right?” I ask Aidan. “Who knows how the alleged tumor may develop in the meantime.” Aidan agrees “Let’s avoid the more crowded parts.” I’m already imposing things on the family, I think by myself. Aidan, Lise and myself find a quiet spot at the end of the arena that still offers a good view. We install ourselves in a couple of comfortable chairs. Another seventy riders before it’s Ian’s turn, meaning lots of time to sit back and relax. “I’ll get us the drinks and snacks, then you can avoid the crowded bars.” Aidan says. Normally I insist on contributing my share. Today I happily take Aidan’s offer.
“Beige?” “Yes Lise?” “That lady has cancer.” Not far away from us she spotted a lady who obviously is undergoing chemotherapy. ”I know, let’s be discreet, won’t we? I love you.” “I love you too Beige.” I know it’s inappropriate, but I can’t stop secretly observing the lady. She sits down quietly the entire time. I wonder how she feels. I used to find it outright scary to see people who undergo chemotherapy. It felt like facing my worst fear. Yet here I am, and to my own surprise, fear is not the overwhelming emotion. I’m determined I will give this my best shot to then get on with life.
Zane joins in, waking me up from my thoughts. He talks endlessly to Lise and myself. A bit like Lise, he easily transforms into a river of comfortable conversation. It is close to lunch when Ian and Kesh make their way into the arena. Twelve jumps, two minutes to capitalize on the endless hours of practice that preceded. I’m nervous. After the many disappointments with Daydream, I so much want it to be good for him. He trots Kesh around, showing her the jumps. They seem to have the right balance between being relaxed and ready to go at it. “The next combination. We welcome Aidan and Kesh!” Then the bell rings. They pick up canter and head towards the first jump. I hold my breath at each jump. They ride a beautiful competition, and most importantly, Ian is enjoying himself. They finish with a good timing. We cheer with relief. As Ian and Kesh make their way back into the practice arena, we go find Ian to congratulate him. “Super well done little friend!!!” Seeing the happiness on his face is priceless.
Aidan’s booked the four of us into the same restaurant as last night. He and I sit down on the balcony in the shade. “I love you.” Aidan signs. “Me you too.” I joke back. We order a glass of chilled wine while we wait for the children to return from putting Kesh into her box. If only for the laid back lunches and dinners outside, summer is the best season of the year. After a while, their tanned faces appear up the stairs, the two of them engaged in joyful conversation. We are ready to enjoy our late lunch. No more competition for the rest of the day. Today is a good day.