2018 and Trek No. 18 for me. Riding for Mom.
I have decided to leave up what I wrote in previous years, if you're feeling like a reader. Long story short: I have been doing this a long time. I love this event and there is very, very little that would cause me to miss it - including a torn ACL last year, which may have prevented me from riding, but I hobbled around on my crutches cheering on my tribe. What started as something fun to do with friends and family has morphed into an agenda.
I was 25 when I started riding in 2001. Life was grand and carefree. For many years, the ride continued in such joy, often with my dear Mama riding by my side. Then in 2014 she was diagnosed, ironically enough, with lung cancer. A year and a half later, as a very young 67 years of age, she was gone. Just like that. While the ride will always be enjoyable and amazingly beautiful – full of so many of the best people and breathtaking scenery (honestly – it never gets old) – I can’t envision ever describing it as “grand and carefree” again.
My mission: raise what little I can to ensure that even just one family never goes through what my family has been through.
So, as always, Happy Trails. I appreciate every single generous dollar raised for this cause.
2017. My 17th Trek. 17 years. 1,700 miles. Give or take. Two bikes (only 2....?). A couple/few bike racks. Couple/few boyfriends. One husband. One child. One broken tailbone. One crazy dog. One year making staff think we were dead because we spent all day in a cave. A lot rain. A good bit of snow. And sleet. And red-spotted newts so thick that you couln't help but run over a few. Lots of sun. One endless, beautiful, healing, majestic river.
One small, loving family. One small, loving family minus one.
I can't bring myself to delete (or read) last year's text, so I will leave it at the bottom. If you know me, you know that this ride started out as something fun to do and evolved into something far greater.
In January 2016, I lost my mom after a hard-fought battle with lung cancer. I will forevermore ride in her honor and memory and in an effort to save even one person from the heartache of losing someone to something completely preventable. This was an event that she also loved, one we did together, one that will never be the sme without her.
I keep my words short(ish...you know me). You can do the research. Google "American Lung Association programs". Find out what your tax-deductible donation will go toward. While I am certain this specific trek was pivitol in my mom's desire to quit smoking, I can't help but wonder what life would be like right now if she had had the ALA in her life when she thought about taking that first drawal. Would she would still be enjoying her granddaughter's laughter and brilliance and spirit? I wish I could know the answer to that.
This year, I ride in memory of my most beloved Mom. She loved this trek. She wanted to ride this year. We all believed she could.
I'm sure I will edit this page in the future, but this day, 11 days into a life without the woman I looked up to exclusively for 41 years, I leave you with this:
Lung cancer is an awful, nasty, aggressive, heartbreaking thing to experience with anyone. I promise you don't want that experience. I promise you don't. And I don't make many promises - only ones that speak absolute truth.
I could go on to tell you in great detail what daily life is like for someone with lung cancer, and for the loved ones watching someone fight their heart out. Fears, joys, sadness, tears, smiles, grief. There is a lot I could tell you.
I could go even further, and explain in great detail what it's like raising an asthmatic child, one who is 2 and can't sit still for 30 seconds, much less 8-15 mintues, 2-6 times a day for treatments to keep her lungs clear.
But today, I just leave you to consider these things for yourself. Knowing that a small donation is all it takes to help raise awareness, help kill the tobacco industry (sorry farmers, really, I am sorry for you, but I am not sorry for the industry), help kids and their families learn more about their condition, feel less alone.
Sixteen years ago, I could not have fathomed how personal this event and this organization would become. How I would love to turn back those years with the knowledge I have now.
Help us save others from ever having to feel the same.