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The dead ride bikes.

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:10pm

I am, in fact, alive. I am doing well, and thank you all for your comments on the last post. Everything is fine, I am not wallowing in a pit of despair or eating tubs of Ben&Jerry's. I have been, quite simply, terribly busy. I will update as I can over the next few days, but I wanted to share one particular event that occurred on Monday.

I don't know if I mentioned this here before, but I used to be a nanny. There was one family in particular who I worked with for two years. I loved that family. I celebrated birthdays with them, spent a couple Christmas days with them and their family and friends -- I even took care of Little S and her cousins a couple years after I stopped nannying while the adults sat Shiv'ah for Little S's great-grandmother, a woman I loved dearly.

The last time I saw Little S and her parents was at her 5th birthday party. I was just finishing my treatments, and was a couple weeks away from returning to my mom's for three months of recovery. I said I would get in contact when I came back, but when I came home, my computer had deceased and I had lost all my contact information. I was busy, and tired, and sad, and I put off contacting people I should have contacted, including Little S's family. They tried to contact me once, but it was during a time when I was out-of-town, and had left explicit instructions to not let anyone know this. My roommates were evasive, and Little S's mom never tried calling again.

I was riding my bike the other day -- I've been doing a lot of that lately. I just did some work on it, and had new brake cables installed, and it was rideable for the first time in over a year (I borrowed Jayne's bike on occasion). I get on my bike and ride it through the streets, looking in windows and wondering if someone else's life would be better than mine, wondering if I should simply ride and ride without ever stopping. I think a lot, or not at all, on my rides, depending on what is needed. Sometimes I am riding with the hopes of crossing paths with someone -- anyone -- who could convince me that I am making the right decisions right now. Without getting into it, I feel as though I don't know what I am doing or if I should be doing what I am. And this doesn't necessarily have to do with The Boyfriend.

On this particular day I rode up a side street, and noticed someone come out of a second-floor apartment and light up a cigarette. It was Little S's dad. I stopped my bike, pulled my sunglasses down, and said his name, "Joe." His eyes grew wide, and he came down the stairs and hugged me. A big long hug, one that reminded me that there are people in the world who love you even when you have been gone for what seems like forever. We chatted a little, he said to be honest, when you left for home and we didn't hear from you again, I thought you were gone. I wasn't offended; it was a fair assumption to make.

Joe went to the store, and I climbed up the stairs to see Min and Little S. The door was open, and I could hear voices inside. I tried knocking, but they couldn't hear me. So I walked in, down the hallway to the back of the house, and Min saw me, gasped, and then I found myself in another hug. Oh my g-d, it is so good to see you. It is so good to see you.

Little S came over, so tall and thin, a front tooth lost, an adult tooth coming in. She was shy but curious, and Min asked if she remembered who I was. It's Louise, remember? Do you remember when she took care of you?

A light flicked on for Little S. Yes! I remember! I didn't know at first because your hair is different. It used to be reddish, but now it is brown and curly. I used to dye my hair a lot in those days. Little S asked if she could give me a hug. I would like nothing more, I told her. And I hugged that girl, one of my best friends, perhaps the sweetest and cleverest and funniest girls I have ever been honoured to know. I sat in the kitchen with Min and Joe (back from the store), eating strawberry cheesecake and drinking a beer.

We caught up on our missing years. You have to understand, this is my family. When I was in the hospital and my mother left me sobbing and hurt, I didn't call a friend or The Boyfriend or a family member -- I called Min. I have so much love for all of them.

My meeting with them was serendipitous. Min and Little S had just come back from her parent's farm that morning, and Joe was there to celebrate his birthday early as Min and Little S were taking the train east in a couple hours. My window of opportunity was small. But there was something else about that meeting that gives me pause; one of those things which makes me consider that perhaps there is a design which our lives follow.

You see, Min and Joe had a good friend, A. She had a little girl the same age as Little S, and she would bring her over to play when I worked. The last time I saw A. was the last time I had seen Min and Joe and S. She had given birth to a second daughter literally days before.

A. was breastfeeding. Her youngest daughter was about a year when A. found the lump. At first she didn't think anything of it -- her breasts were occasionally lumpy when breastfeeding her first girl, and she felt fine. She was tired and stressed, but her marriage was falling apart, she was in the middle of moving, and life wasn't treating her too kindly. Anyone would be tired.

But things weren't fine. A. went to her doctor, and before long she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It had already spread to her bones and liver. She did radiation and chemo treatments, and followed a complementary treatment cycle with a naturopath. She was feeling good, keeping her energy up. But she woke up with a pain in her neck one morning, and the pain was a lump, and before long she died. Min saw A. the night before her death, and said that A. was calm and accepting. She knew her babies would be taken care of, and she was ready to go. I cried a little when Min told me that.

A. passed away exactly one month to the day that I visited Joe and Min. This was the day on which the month of mourning for A. concluded. A period of mourning ought to be followed by a period of joy. And if there is a design to our lives, then perhaps I was meant to be that joy. A. passed out of Min, Joe, and Little S's lives while I passed back in.

A., I am sorry if this is the 'balance' of the universe. You won't be forgotten.

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