Yesterday we hosted the fourth annual Share the Road Ride. This is the only Soaring Spirits event that is dedicated to my Phil in any obvious way. Banners, flyers, t-shirts all bear his name. Friends from all areas of our shared lives come together, volunteers donate their time to support our Share the Road message, and Phil's love for a good, long ride up a tough hill is honored by every bike that heads out on the road.
Phil died in a cycling accident on August 31, 2005. I don't often repeat the brutal details of his death. Over the years I have found quieter ways to tell the story of how his life ended, utilizing vague details to shield whomever I am speaking to from that horrific images that once played in my brain on an endless loop. There was a time when passing a cyclist on the road took every ounce of will I possessed. Each of my three kids learned to drive after Phil's death, I will never forget the feeling in the car as each of them found the courage to pass that first bicycle on the road. We see Phil on the road, every day.
Which is why ride day is always a mix of terror and awe for me. When we send riders out on the road for the start of the ride, my heart pounds, my hands sweat, and I am often near tears. Since Phil's death I am more aware than ever that every helmet I see on the road is worn by a person who is loved by someone else. Every year on ride day I see someone's mom, dad, husband, wife, son, daughter, friend taking off to ride the roads next to the cars who have the power to take their precious life in a matter of seconds. And I am petrified.
But, fear can't win. Death can't win.
Life must win.
If Phil was fortunate enough to have survived his accident, I know without a doubt that he would have ridden his bike again. He would have told me that you only live once, and that he wasn't going to give up doing what he loved. I can almost hear him listing all the other ways he might die, and also expressing what a boring life he would lead if he let fear win. Then he would have continued living his life as large and loud as possible.
And I would have fretted, worried, imagined the worst, and then thrown my leg over my own bike to ride beside him onto our next adventure. So, yesterday's ride (in the worst weather we have ever had on ride day!) was MY way of "getting back on the bike." I will not allow fear to keep me from honoring my husband's life. I will not allow fear to steal precious moments of MY life by over-worrying and under-living. I will not spend the time I have left on earth limiting my dreams with what-ifs and maybes.
I will live, because he didn't. And in that living, I will carry his spirit with me into my next adventure, knowing he would be proud.