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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

For Michelle

I can't say I really knew her.
In fact to say I knew her at all would be an overstatement.
I met her. I had more than a few conversations with her. She was nice.

She didn't know me.
She may have heard about me from others, but I doubt it.
In the end she probably knew me better than I knew her.
But what she didn't know is what she gave me.

She gave me a bicycle.
Of course, she knew that part, and I was not the only one she gave one to.
But she never knew that along with that bicycle she gave me so much more.

She gave me my body back.
She gave me my own strength.
My ability to believe in and trust my body again;
To know that my body could be a thing of power, maybe even sometimes grace.

When you have cancer, it is hard to trust your body.
I felt that mine failed me twice.
I felt at times that my own body was trying to kill me.

But through my donated bike "Crash"
and training to ride in last year's Tour de Pink,
I found my body again: different, permanently changed, but in some ways better than ever.

She gave me a bike.
So simple.
Yet it is a gift for which I cannot find the words of thanks.
She gave me the ability to dream on two wheels.
She brought me hours of joy, intense happiness, introspection, and closeness to life.

I met her during the Tour de Pink and learned that she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was terrible and painfully ironic since the company she worked for, Giant Bicycles, had been a sponsor of the Tour de Pink and donated bikes to all the survivors who rode. I am sure it was a strange position for her to be in. She was part of, but in many ways not one of the celebrated survivors in the crowd. Instead she was quietly on the sidelines, doing her job, and still getting used to her own diagnosis.

She died from metastatic cancer yesterday. She was young. I have no idea if she had a family, a partner, or kids. I know that she had a beautiful smile. I am sure that she will be greatly missed by a large group of people who knew her well and loved her. But I will never forget her.

In thanks, Michelle, I took "Crash" out for a 26 mile ride. We went fast, averaging about 16 miles per hour. It was a strenuous ride, a hard one, but I am so grateful that I could make it and think of you. In each labored breath I took I hope that somehow you heard me saying thank you.

2 comments:

  1. Wow Alane, incredible words and tribute to Michelle. I thank you for giving me a glimpse into this Warriors life and the battle she just lost. Just know she was listening and on that ride w/ you today. Love and Light Alane, Binner

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  2. Keep telling stories. They are amazingly powerful.

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