There are 365 days each year, most of which pass us by with little to no fuss. But there are a few days each year that we anticipate ~ be it with excitement or dread. The days I look forward to are primarily happy days: my birthday, my husband’s birthday, our anniversary, June 21st (the longest day of the year), July 4th (who doesn’t like fireworks?), December 21st (because it means the days are getting longer and we’re halfway to June 21st). Someone queue Bon Jovi.
Then there’s my daughter’s birthday on February 9th. It was certainly a life changing day and is one of the happiest days of my life. Next month she’ll be 13; a teenager. January has been my least favorite month for most of my adult life. It’s such a dark, cold month. There aren’t many January days that are good for outdoor riding. Combine that with back to work and school following the holidays and it’s simply dreadful. However, after I had my daughter I found a new way to make the passing of January more tolerable. I went into birthday party planning mode January 2nd. Now that she is getting older, the party planning has dissipated and the January winter doldrums have returned.
In 2010, on February 7th after my daughter’s 8th birthday party, we returned to our home. It was a cold, snowy Sunday afternoon. At that time, we still had a “land line” to our house. The phone rang as soon as we walked through the door. When I realized my husband had picked up a call from my mom and she was inquiring as to whether we had received the birthday gift she had sent, my daughter and I quickly bundled back up into our snow boots, coats, and hats and ran down the street to the mailbox. After retrieving the box from Texas, we ran back home as fast as we could. My mom got to be “with” us on the phone as my daughter tore into the box. It was a joyful conversation. Later that night after the Superbowl, the phone rang again. This time it was my dad calling to say that my mom had collapsed and died just a couple of hours before. February 7th officially became the saddest day of my life.
When I started riding the bike in the fall of 2011, it was one of the best things I did for my mental health. In another blog post I wrote about how I was not a cyclist when I joined my team, but quickly started pedaling my way to becoming one. While I longed for someone to ride with in those winter months before my first race, it was more therapeutic that I was riding alone. I’m not going to lie, there were many tears shed behind those sporty Smith sunglasses. As winter turned to spring and spring to summer, I began to notice the birds chirping as I pedaled along. One day, as I pedaled along a familiar road,
I heard the distinctive song of the meadowlark. My mom always loved that sound and would point it out to anyone nearby whenever she heard it. I started spending more time riding on this road because it was one of only two roads where I heard the meadowlark. Being out on those deserted roads with the sound of the meadowlark made me feel closer to her.
As I gained strength and endurance during that summer of 2012, I began to ride further and further from my home, and further from that road where the meadowlarks sing. But I’m frequently drawn back to that road. Sometimes I hear the meadowlarks calling to me as I go by; sometimes I call out to them. Riding on that road is where I found peace on two wheels.