Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

A trigger date, but the firing pin is missing.

Today would have been Billy Jo and my 15th wedding anniversary. In early March I was beginning to worry a bit about it. Would that be a meltdown day? After all, the last time I had a meltdown (or really, any type of sadness) was her birthday, and it was not pretty. I was fine the next day, so I knew even if it were bad on 4/25 I'd be fine 4/26. It didn't stop my concern in early March though.

What did stop it was the speaker at one of the bereavement workshops. He talked, as if reading my mind that night, about how many people tell him that they spent 6-8 weeks worrying about a milestone date only to have it come and go without incident. They said they felt bad for giving it so much attention and emotion leading up to it, and for it to be okay once it was upon them. Wasted emotions, wasted worry. It was that moment I stopped all thought about it, and I've been that way since.

As this week started, I knew today was coming. I'm still doing well...I didn't anticipate any issues. Regardless, I decided I wanted to do something nice for someone on this day. It would make me feel good and as a bonus to feeling good I was "hedging my bets" that I'd be ok. I can't be miserable if I do something that makes someone happy, right? 

While in Florida I had sent Billy Jo's doctor offices and staff thank you notes.  I feel that wasn't satisfactory enough. I've been home long enough, enough time has passed, I wanted to really show my appreciation.

Yesterday I picked up gift cards for Panera and delivered them to the Palliative Care office, the chemo infusion center nurses, and the oncologist office. I wrote in the cards how thankful I was for everything they did and that I wanted them to have breakfast or lunch (or both) on me, with the stipulation that they do it today. While no one I knew was available in the Palliative Care office, I spoke at great lengths with one of the oncologist nurses whom I knew well, and two of the infusion center nurses. They were so happy and thankful, and this in turn made my day :)

Yesterday was also the first time I was back at Central DuPage Hospital since the day we left there to transition Billy Jo into hospice care, seven months ago. There were so many bad days filled with bad news over the years in this place. Too many to count.

But guess what? I had zero issues. Zero. I could have been walking into a place I've never been before. That's how little effect it had on me. I knew right then that I'd be fine today. If a building full of those kind of memories doesn't trigger anything, a day on a calendar sure as shit isn't going to.

Today consisted of work, leaving a bit early so ComEd could pick up my energy sucking garage refrigerator ($50!), the first yard work of the year, and in a few hours I will meet friends for dinner. It's a good day. A normal day. I'm typing this at 3:30 pm because I am confident the rest of the day will be just fine.

I am pretty certain I am totally past the grief stage now. There still might be a pang of it now and then in my future... who knows. If there is I'll deal with it. I miss her, but I can do so without grieving. I just miss her, nothing else. Being depressed about it isn't going to bring her back, it would just hurt me. I don't want that. She certainly didn't want that.

That being said, I will keep working with my therapist and see what lies ahead for me. There's plenty to talk about, and I like how our sessions are not totally about bereavement, grief, death, etc. I really am glad I decided to go. I no doubt still have challenges facing me - continuing to see her can only help me in all aspects of my life from here on out.

I rode my bike Monday 26 miles. Tuesday it rained AGAIN. Yesterday I decided it was time to really start training - I did a ride solely for the hills. Yes, there are two hills in NE Illinois, and as luck would have it they're a little over a mile apart. This allowed me to go up each five times. I froze my ass off (it was about 45 and windy) but I felt great afterwards. I needed some no-thinking, leg-murdering, heart rate rocketing bicycle riding, and it delivered. No, my max HR was not 221 as the data shows... the wind sometimes causes the monitor to malfunction. At the 221 point I was going downhill at 35mph into the wind. Looking at the data, 202 seems like it was the max on that ride. Still crazy, but not "my heart is going to explode out of my chest" crazy. It was only for a few seconds. I can do 185 for an hour. 202 for a few minutes ain't shit.

It feels so strange to not be concerned about wind at all and actively seeking out hills that I dreaded doing (even once) two years ago. Unless there's lightning and tornados the entire week of RAGBRAI, it will likely be much easier than last time. I am in a much different frame of mind. "I can't" is losing it's grip on me really really fucking quick.