26 November, 2011

A Bicycle Built for...Someone Else

The other day I was driving along, taking care only to watch my speed, and otherwise on autopilot. I was preoccupied making a list of all that I needed to do before we left for the holiday when I saw several bike riders turn onto the other side of the street. The last cyclists in line were a man and woman on a tandem bike, with a baby seat behind them.

I burst into tears.

It’s something I had forgotten; something that I used to want so badly. I wanted to ride on a tandem bike with my husband and our kid. I wanted to sail along the coast or through the grape vines of the wine country. We were going to be so fit and happy with our giggly baby cooing behind us. I had forgotten how many bikes I looked at online and those I looked at in stores while I walked around with my big pregnant belly.

Then we had Jake. Then I broke my leg. Then Jake wasn’t “meeting his milestones.” Then there was the first neurologist. Then the dog died. Then there was a job change (and another job change). Then there was OT and PT. And Jake still didn’t walk or talk, and he couldn’t sit up well on his own, (and how would he ever had ridden in that bicycle seat?) Then there was early intervention preschool and we bought a new couch. Another dog died, and there was more this therapy and that therapy, and speech therapy. We bought a mini-van. Then we had Lucy, and a few more dogs, and Jake got settled and happy in his new school, and Lucy started kindergarten.

And somewhere along the way, in the last eleven years, I forgot about the tandem bike. I forgot how important it had been and how badly I had wanted us to have “that life.” I forgot about the people I thought we would be, and the places those people would go. But watching that long bike whiz by tore something a little open in me and I had to pull over for a minute so I could get my bearings, and I could remember to be thankful.


I don’t have a tandem bike. I probably won’t ever have a tandem bike because it doesn’t match up with my life anymore, and really, it probably never did. I didn’t get to have “that life” – but what some people forget, as we wallow around in “what ifs”, is that no one had that life. No one did because it never existed, except in the mind of some lady in a bike shop staring at $3000 price tag.

The thing about being thankful, is that it requires you to be thankful. It’s not about begrudgingly acknowledging that “it’s not what I wanted, but it’s not so bad.” Being thankful is recognizing all of the goodness that is, (and maybe seeing the pitfalls that you dodged). Being thankful can be hard in the face of grief, or chronic pain, or financial struggle. It’s hard when your kid has a meltdown in the middle of the holiday dinner, or your spouse just can’t handle another minute with people and must retreat (leaving you to explain the absence). Being thankful might take a moment when you're just so tired, and every single thing seems so hard.

But there is good in every one of my days. I am so thankful for the life I have; for my smart, handsome husband who has turned out to be a really great dad, and for my beautiful children who surprise me every day. I love my family, and where I live, and the friends I’ve made. We have jobs, and interesting colleagues, and a house and cars that run and food in the fridge and the freezer. I have every basic need met and then some, and then some more, and I am so very thankful.
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