LONG LONG RIDE
by Randy Ford
To reassure herself on a hot day Pat told Sid to pack energy bars and extra water. As she watched her husband get ready for a bicycle ride, she thought he looked healthy and strong. Even though he had been involved in a few silly falls, she didn’t worry about him
“Why don’t you come along?” he asked. “I’ll let you lead.”
“No thanks, you go ahead,” she answered. There was a time she would’ve joined him. Many times she enjoyed riding with him.
Looking back on it, she remembered thinking something wasn’t quite right. She remembered thinking that there was something not quite right with him, and when he didn’t return within an hour he set, she began worrying. Indeed, had she known of chest pains, she would’ve prevented him from going. She kept coming back to this. But she also knew she couldn’t have kept him from going.
And now what? Sid’s heart attack and death hit her hard. It happened when she wasn’t there, during a bicycle ride that she refused to go on. It struck without warning, or so she thought, because she never knew about chest pains. Now she had to live alone.
He died within sight of a summit and without anyone around. She knew view from there, a view that extended for miles and miles. Why did he have to spoil this view for her? She didn’t feel ready to go there to lay a wreath, build a shrine, nor do something else. To even go to her husband’s funeral was a struggle.
Well, around the house unable to stop crying she puttered and moped and avoided opening his side of their closet. She didn’t know yet what she would do with his clothing. She tried not to think about it because it hurt too much. She tried to gather all things around the house that reminded her of him and place them in his study. She didn’t know if she could give any of it away. She threw away a few things, which caused her great pain. All she could see ahead of her was a long dreary road. She didn’t know what she would do next, nor if she could get on a bicycle again. It was funny how she couldn’t follow her own advice and adopt a cat. It was way too soon, too soon for many things, too soon to get on a bike and go on a ride.
Feeling puny and putrid she didn’t feel like eating, and she listened for Sid’s voice…wanted to hear Sid’s voice. Ached and missed him more than anything. Yearned to feel his arms encircling her again and then cried. Broke down in shower, broke down in car, and when she cried it embarrassed her. Broke down when she suddenly found herself in middle of an intersection too. She couldn’t help herself. And felt like she’d never be happy again. So she cleaned, cleaned windows, clear and cleaned both porches, kept bathroom sparkling, and pulled all weeds in yard. And as she worked herself to death, she kept recalling this and that about Sid. Oh, memories. They were so painful. Memories were painful.
There were days when she couldn’t get out of bed. Sometimes she couldn’t answer door even for friends. She resented unsolicited advice or help. No one understood when everyone thought they did. Their assumptions were bull. It got where it didn’t make any difference who was around and who came and went. She just wanted to crawl in a hole and die. Die and be with Sid.
Be brave. Don’t cry. Jesus wept. According to Bible, God saves our tears in a bottle. According to Bible, Jesus. Talking to her son helped. And as he came around more, accepting help became easier for her.
It was harder and lonelier at night. That was when she would listen for Sid’s voice. Barking dogs would irritate her. If only she could hear his voice and know he was there. Damn him! When she wasn’t paying attention, she burned herself on the stove. It hurt, and she laughed. Horrors! She laughed about it.
Yet may she not still have a life, even after what she’s faced? Why did she need such a big house? What if she sold it? Each room held memories. Ah, sure, she loved house, but why did she need so much room? But she didn’t move right away. Too soon for it too move.
So now what? From a catatonic, shattered state she began to emerge and began a search for a new beginning. As fog began to lift, she began to see that she might have a future. Maybe she could get closer to her son and spend more time with grandchildren and friends.
Sid should’ve told her about his chest pains, so that they could’ve done something about them. But Pat knew that she couldn’t go back. That last morning they read books while they ate their breakfast, all absorbed, him about God and universe and her about crime and mystery. When they spoke, it was about news of the day. “But see!” She exclaimed, thinking about him. “See what happened to you!”
Now go in peace. It was all private. Funny how she didn’t go riding with him! Peace! She knew that she needed to move down the road. Get on a bicycle again. Peace. Peace. Only she wished that there were a way to soften blow.
But she knew that her life would be tougher and rougher without Sid. She would have to find her confront zone.