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Friday, December 14, 2018

The Bike Room and the Anniversary of Great Loss

"I have always believed that hope is that
stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite
all evidence to the contrary, that something better
awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep
reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting."
Barack Obama


Perhaps it is fitting on the eve of the night that I lost you and you went home, that I have completed the transformation of your honey bottling room to a bike room.  I miss you, my love.  I will always miss you.  But I move forward as life forces me to and as you would want me to for yours was an unusually selfless love the majority of the time and you never could stand it when I cried.  Today as I baked cookies for my brother I smiled thinking of your tolerance the first years of marriage as I learned to cook and I thought of the lines from Kenny Chesney's song, "It's the way that she looked with rice in her hair, eating burned suppers the whole first year, and asking for seconds to keep her from tearing up.  That's the Good Stuff."  Thank you for your patience as I grew.  I am, even without you, still growing, still finding my way, and that is how it should be.  Love, I have hope, and hope is a  precious thing, hope of good things to come waiting right around the next bend in the road.

Perhaps you know, but my brother will be joining you in the not so distant future barring a miracle.  Sometimes the loss of yet someone else I love seems too much to bear, but it is just the nature of things.  There is no guarantee for any of us and life here is impermanent.  So I tell him as I told you that I love him and how I appreciate all the things he has done for me over the years, of what a great brother he has been even though he does not believe it.  Perhaps we always expect more of ourselves than others do of us, or perhaps we see ourselves differently.   In some ways, the way we talked in the those days leading up to your last prepared me to help him as he struggles with many of the same issues that you did.  Were you a good parent?  Were you a good child, spouse, employee?  Will there be forgiveness for our failures? 

It is appropriate that I changed your honey room to a bicyle room because of course you were the one who bought me my first bike from John Molnar at Jeffersonville Schwinn.  I must say I was surprised.  I didn't want a bike and had not asked for one, but you were worried I was running too much.  I saw John last  year.  He seems fine and happy.    Then you bought me my second bike, again from John and Jeff Schwinn.  I remember how you told me that as I got better at the triathlons, you would buy me better bikes.  But then I became hooked on distance cycling.  And still you encouraged me, urging me to go to Paris to complete PBP despite the strain on our finances, telling me that I needed to do things while I still can, biting back your disappointment at my change in direction.

 I remember your words as I remember so many of the things you taught me.   I hope to continue to move forward, to find new, wonderful things in the world, to learn new things:  to do these things while I still can because life is short and health precarious.  I remembered those words when I went to California this year and my nephew asked if I wanted to learn to Paddle Board.  Initially I was going to decline, but I squelched my misgivings and found that I could do it and I enjoyed it.  I went whale watching and wept at the beauty and at the sadness as the water from their breath streamed upwards.  

This year I learned to install new faucets and to fix some plumbing leaks.  I learned to replace a light switch without electrocuting myself.  Yesterday I cleaned and resealed the grout in the kitchen and it turned out well. And this year, love, we got a granddaughter, Ivy.  Oh, how I wish you could hold her and that we could smile at each other in that way couples do when they have shared so many years that conversation is not always necessary for communication.  

With the bike room, I hope to improve my practically non-existent bike mechanical skills.   Originally I planned on building a small work bench for the room, but I regretfully decided that the space it would take would make the room less efficient.  So, love, I will use your work bench in the room next door when one is required.  I was disappointed as I hoped to try my hand at building it, but there will be other things to build, like the bird feeder I put together.  Today there were two woodpeckers at the same time as well as the doves, Blue Jays, gold finches, and chickadees. 

Thank you again, love, for everything that you gave me.   I still am deciding about whether I want to continue doing brevets and do PBP again or if I would find more enjoyment and fulfillment from a different type of riding.  Early this year Diana and I took a mountain biking class and it was quite fun.  We are planning a trip to Alaska the year after next for hiking, biking, and kayaking, at least if her husband is well enough for us to go.  

I tried to think of the advice you would give me on these issues, but then I realized that you really wouldn't give advice:  you just listened.  I hope you are listening now and that you smile down on the transformation of your room to a room that is mine.  

I love you.  Melissa

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