Friday, December 02, 2016

Farewell, Polychronis

This morning I was greeted by news of two losses: one a young man on the island who was a classmate of the boys and in our ski school group; the other a sweet soul in Greece who was our swim guide in 2014, Polychronis. My heart goes out to both families. This is a tough day.

I was thinking about Poly just yesterday and remembering our chat in August, that he was hoping to see us on the Sfakia swim next year. He is gone now. Much too young. He had a chronic terminal illness that still baffles me; this was an athlete in the prime of his life. I was old enough to be his teen mom! I don't get it.

Poly was an accomplished Greek marathon swimmer in his own right. When we met him, he had a confidence and elegance about him that was almost regal, as in, what the heck are you doing as a swim guide? When all the swimmers were video taped and grouped by speed, he expressed his disappointment that I wasn't in his group, the fastest of the bunch. He called me Phoebe instead of Heidi because of my Lisa Kudrow-ness. I also remember how badly one woman swimmer felt when he evaluated her and called her stroke "aggressive and strained." She was a sourpuss for the rest of the trip and scowled and complained to his boss (to no avail, of course, he was just being honest).

On the boat each day, Poly was a joker and very affable. His English was perfect. Anne and I really adored the guides and begged them to come see us in Seattle and we'd take them to Alpine lakes and pine-lined swimscapes. Poly revealed to Anne that he'd been going through debilitating chemo treatments- this man in his 20s. It changed his body, his skin, his energy. And still, there he was, living life to his fullest and being a prankster and slaying this shit for as long as he could.

When we said goodbye, it was with the full intent of seeing him again. Before heading to the airport in the morning I leaped into his lap, backpack and all, and gave him a great big hug. I know Poly will be there when we swim with TBB next year, in spirit. You'll be in Sfakia no matter what.

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