Thursday, February 02, 2012

Get under the blankets or on the bike?

All I really wanted to do was curl up and take a nap yesterday when it was time to leave work. It's my first week back riding my bike to work every day since mid-December. I, of course, also made it my first week back to getting home earlier to help Mama through the witching hour with the kids. That, of course, means that it's my first week back to getting up at 5 a.m.

If you knew me back when--say, in high school--you'd know that I'm not so much of a morning person. And if you knew me in college, you'd know that I am most definitely a nap person. But, yesterday as I was thinking that I'd much rather crawl under the blankets than climb onto my bike, I thought of my high school friend who just lost her mother to breast cancer while she herself is fighting it.

In a message to me, she talked about how tired she was, how hard it was to keep it all together for her young kids, and how she couldn't decide about her mom's service...hat or wig? hat or wig?

Somehow, through it all, she's kept her sparkling wit, demonstrating her true courage through grace under pressure. I'm not terribly surprised, however, since she was one of the steady hands that guided me through high school when I was not only being torn apart by my father's death from cancer, but also heavily under the influence of adolescence the whole time.

Sure, none of us knew what we were talking about, but in a time when everything around me seemed to be flying around me as if the parts of my life were shattered and raging around me in a tornado, she was there. She was always there. She wasn't the only one, but she was one among a very few. Turns out that's all I really needed: people who were always there.

Now, when she's looking up through the funnel cloud, I'm 3,000 miles away. But I'm doing what I can to be there for her, just as I did two years ago for my other high school friend who successfully fought breast cancer. And for my college friend who fought cancer. And my coworker.

I got on my bike and rode home, enjoying every moment. Enjoying the surprising spring weather in the midst of winter, enjoying the sun shining down, the sparkle of every leaf of grass, the wind--yes, even the headwind--and the motion of my body, powering myself home to my wife and kids.

And, quite honestly, I was doing it for all of our kids. Everyone I named who fought cancer--friends from high school, college, work--has kids. And while we will receive some of the rewards of the research my bike riding funds, our kids will receive the bulk of the bounty. I won't speak for my friends, but if they're anything like me, they'd say that's as they wish. As a parent, I'll do whatever it takes to ensure the happiness of my children.

Whatever it takes, I'll be there.

Papa Bradstein will be there...and there, and there, and there...riding 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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