Two years ago today, my brother’s daughter, Meg, succumbed to the illness, and treatment of, Leukemia. She was 7 years old.
After her diagnosis, I found solace on my bike. In 2009 I rode my first Pan Mass Challenge. That year, the cycling challenge was unknown to me so I followed the training schedule like any dedicated overachiever would. In the years since, my readiness has fluctuated mildly, but I have always managed to be prepared enough. I love riding, despite the physical pain it has caused.
I recent years, my family cut back to one care and I’ve since committed to commuting by bike. This has brought a great deal of joy for me. Even when riding in snow storms. Especially when riding in snow storms (see the weather for that day). Being outside, in the woods, under the sun, rain or snow every morning and every evening is my time to breath and think and remember.
When I’m on my bike, I remember her. I remember Meg. Or at least, I think I do. I think about her. I have plenty of time. I do need to watch out for trees, and turtles and deer at times, but I also think about Meg, her family, her friends, and the people who cared for her.
I started riding my bike because I knew no other way to help her. For three years I rode with her in my mind. Those thoughts pushed me forward, kept my legs moving, and got me up hills. Frustrated. Angry. Sad. Hopeful.
And then she was gone.
No more frustration and hope. Only anger and sadness.
Today, I set out to publicize my feelings in some clichéd way. After all, I didn’t practice bike-writing my kids’ names across parking lots for nothing.
The image that title’s this article was written as gracefully as I could manage across a vacant parking lot near my home while riding a bike with no seat.
Leading up to this day, I had grand plans to trace “MEG” in an open field deep in the woods. Unfortunately, when I reached the field, I found it to be so overgrown that I would have either come out with Lymes disease, or stayed in with a broken leg at the bottom of a hidden sinkhole. Dejected and apologetic, I set out to the only other large open place I knew of, a parking lot.
Three miles from home, the bolt connecting seat to bike sheared off. Pondering if I should focus on weight loss instead of fitness, I picked up the pieces and set off again, seatless and standing. It took a few minutes convince my brain to fear sitting and thus avoid damaging my boy parts but I was successful and considered it good practice, of some kind.
With the seat in my cargo shorts, I rode and wrote as best I could. The kerning may leave something to be desired and double tracing the ‘E’ makes it look sloppy, but overall I think it turned out OK. Perhaps someday I’ll find a larger area that will allow me to draw letters and/or shapes that are miles across, instead of only a hundred feet or so, as these are.
Until then, and forever after, I will ride on and remember you, Meg.