Poem response —For Grief ~ John O’Donohue
“There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks…
And you are thrown back Onto the black tide of loss.”
I may be somewhat of a novice now, but I am training to become an accomplished cyclist. That includes getting the right equipment for the job. A few short weeks ago, I bought a used but new-to-me touring bike, perfect for roads. Each time I ride, I concentrate on how to work the gears, grip the handles, increase my speed. I’m breaking down each thing that I can improve so I can eventually ride with better cyclists than myself and look like I know what I’m doing! It’s the most exciting thing I’ve done in a long time.
I am currently using my old mountain biking gloves with this new bike. My mountain bike has a shock fork in the front, so it’s made to absorb vibration from bumps and rough ground. My new bike is totally different. It has no shock, just a steel frame with a solid fork. The old gloves are not working to cushion the vibration. Also, Michigan has some terrible roads and I feel every bump! This afternoon I went to my bike shop to buy a new pair of gloves. I chose a pair that had some dense cushioning on the areas of my hands that will need it most. They are very snug fitting, and kind of like a dog’s thunder sweater, they calmed me down when I put them on.
My grief is very much like these biking gloves. Making the decision to buy a new pair was just like me choosing to take this writing course. I was going along before, but feeling every bump can be too painful and I am not that ‘in’ to torturing myself! Finding the right fit for carrying my loss is something I do constantly. There are some moments when I feel completely exposed to the harshness and vibration, and it can be unbearable at times. I seek out things and ways that can make me feel better.
Not to mention the condition of the roads. I took a new route a couple days ago, and one road was freshly paved, I’d like to think I was the first cyclist to use it! But then, I turned right on to the next, and it was the worst! I would compare this to those frequent grief bombs: unexpected sudden triggers of pain and you just have to get through it. Patched holes and buckling cracks, there was no relief in sight on this road, except when I could finally make the next turn according to my map notes. I am finding that just going along on these rides without a map can be a disaster. I now plan out a specific route. However, the time factor usually kicks in mid-ride and I realize I was a little too ambitious, and I have to cut it short to get back to be on time for something else. I’m hoping to go on a full ride Saturday morning, no limits on time, my teenagers will be sleeping in. It’s this kind of moment I crave and need. Perhaps in my attempt to be a better cyclist, I may be learning how to ride with my loss, too, and course correct as I go. I can only hope.~Paula