"How we need that security. How we need
another soul to cling to, another body to keep us
warm. To rest and trust; to give your soul in
confidence: I need this. I need someone to pour
myself into." Sylvia Plath
Yesterday was my Christmas century. Normally I offer breakfast before hand, and I have enjoyed the decorating, the preparations, even the cooking. What is there about feeding people that gives such a feeling of satisfaction even if, like me, you are not a great cook and often not even a good one? But this year is the anniversary of loss. Can it actually be almost a year since he passed? I was recently told by a friend who lost a child that it gets easier after this, after most of the first times alone are done.
Originally I contemplated not having the ride, but I know I do not need to sit around and mope. What is done is done and what is past is past. So I compromise: I hold the ride without having the breakfast. I have mixed feelings about this decision, but I think it is the best one. And so I put the ride on the schedule.
The original prediction was for sunshine and fifties, but of course that changed. As light filters slowly into the world, I wonder how many, if any, will show for a ride in this fog. True, Steve Rice and Bill Pustow had both said they were riding, and Tony Darnell had e-mailed, but still I doubt. There is a certain beauty here in this cold, misty, wonderland, but there is also danger but you can't see but a short space ahead and if you can't see, you know you may not be seen. But six arrive (Roger Bradford, Lynn Roberts, and Thomas Nance) and we head out into the damp cold.
The earth is lovely, a bride on her wedding night, dressed in white and shy about disrobing. The branches of trees shimmer, frost so thick it looks as if it snowed. I think how I love the gentle sound of chatting and laughter from friends that are gathered to ride despite the cold and fog, for it is below freezing. How I love the sound of pedal strokes and wheels turning and the land unfolding before me, like a present that is constantly being opened. Even by lunch the fog remains, not quite so thick, yielding in places, but ever present.
We pass the brick factory at Medora and I am amazed at how much more you can see now that the foliage is denuded. As always, I wonder why this factory failed when it once was one of the largest in the country. I am thankful that Steve made me aware of this factory, for most of my rides do not go by it. And it is the first climb of the day, much needed after the chill of stopping.
After lunch, during the gravel hill, wind begins to sweep the ice off of the tree branches making a delightful sound as it hits the road, other branches, and my helmet. I am surprised as it appears the hill has been grated. Last time I was this way it was almost impossible to ride. Still I get off and walk, enjoying the sounds and a full belly.
But outside of Brownstown, before the last store stop, I become cold, chilled to the bone for some reason, and I think of home and a warm bath. It strikes me that this year he will not be waiting and I will never be truly warm again because I will never be held in his arms again. I am undone. I finish the ride by myself thankful that friends have the insight to know that I need this, this time to say once more goodbye. And I think how lucky I am to have friends to help me mark my first Christmas Century where I came home to a house now empty of him. Despite my loss, I have much to be thankful for. Merry Christmas to those I may not see until after the holiday. "God bless us every one." (Charles Dickens)