Ok I admit it, I am getting very nervous. One week today I will be around five hours into the biggest ride of my life. The ride I am doing on behalf of someone else. The ride I swore I’d never do. The ride I have to complete now because I do not want to fail Bob.
Not only am I nervous but I am also struggling to keep my emotions under control. This last week I have felt constantly on edge, restless and tearful. Anyone who knows me will know how well I have been doing with staying tough but this is getting to me. Tears spring readily to my eyes. Conversations I could previously have had regarding Bob or the ride are now punctuated by my pauses for a rapid blinking session and to get my voice back under control.
My dreams are also affected. The last few weeks I have had frequent dreams with Bob featuring. They are sometimes normal and sometimes nightmares but always mean I awake feeling totally rotten. It is like I’m getting so close to getting to spend time with him again and then having it snatched away as wakefulness creeps in. Can’t I just stay in that never never world, in a false reality without ever having to face the truth of loss again?
But no, none of us can stay in the past. Life is too short to linger in our memories for too long. If I do that I will not be creating any new memories. And in all honesty I wouldn’t for a second want to miss getting to see my best friends baby growing up. Or any other events and achievements in my loved ones lives. I wouldn’t want to miss the joy of future laughter. And I would especially hate to miss the chance to return the support and love which has been shown to me by so many.
This weekend I am buying a few final items for the big cycle. Mainly lots of flapjack to be honest! But also water carriers to go on the van to enable cyclists to refill each time they stop. I shall also order my spare tyre, having had a failure of a long ride due to a tear. This ride concluded in a call to my long-suffering parents which went a little like this; Me: “Can you come and get me? I have a big hole in my tyre and can’t cycle home.” Parents: “Of course we will. Where are you?” Me: “In Leicestershire.” Parents: “Where in Leicestershire?” Me: “In a gateway.” Parents: *sigh*. Kindly Stranger: “Do you need any help?” Me: “That’s very kind thank you but someone is coming to get me.” Parents: “Ask him where you are!!!” Me: “He’s gone, sorry. But that would have been a jolly good idea! How long will you be?”
A friend has also very kindly posted me a Park Tools Tyre Boot; I am hoping I need neither this, the tyre or another gateway rescue.
And so I am nearly ready for our ride in memory of Bob.
Have you noticed how many things done and achieved nowadays are ‘in memory of’? How much money is raised for charities under the same phrase. And some charities base whole fundraising events on that principle. If you take part in a Cancer Research Race For Life or BHF Event you are encouraged to write the name of a loved one on your bib number.
We all set ourselves challenges. Some are physical like mine to cycle the Coast 2 Coast in a Day. Some play to other strengths, such as the quizzes my Mum writes and hosts once a year in memory of friends. They all give us the opportunity to remember and to celebrate a life lost and usually also the chance to raise money for charity too. But let’s be honest, we don’t really want to have them.
I rail against the phrase because it brings reality closer. If we are doing something ‘in memory of’ it is because that person is now in the past. My mind struggles with this. Which probably explains the dreams I am having. Last October and November we spent six weeks travelling around Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and India. We cycled, walked and flew, travelled by bus and train. We met amazing people and saw wonderful sights. I ate curry for breakfast (and lunch and dinner) every day for two weeks in India; learnt how to use chopsticks to perfection in Vietnam; discovered the serious business of karaoke in rural Laos villages and learnt much of the terrible times the people of Cambodia had to endure.
Each day that passes makes me appreciate this and all my other amazing trips more and more. But they are tinged with deep sadness because I remember them alone. I will keep these recollections safe and close to my heart ‘in memory of’ the sights we saw together.
Next year; Tibet! New memories which I will not let sadness touch!
Next week; the ride!!! I will so appreciate any messages of encouragement from loved ones and strangers alike. Hope to hear from you all soon.
Be more relentless.
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