86. The Thrill of the Ride

86. The Thrill of the Ride

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength

The Thrill of the Ride

So many people tiptoe through life, so carefully, just to arrive safely, at death.

~Tony Campolo

My phone buzzed. The text read, “I love you, Biker Babe. xxoo.” A brief glance around the coffee shop convinced me that no one was watching. I typed, “I love you, too, Biker Dude. xxoo back atcha!”

Looking up, I caught my husband’s stare across the table and quickly covered my phone. I looked at the floor feeling my face grow warm. Harry spoke first, “You look awfully cute today, Biker Babe.”

Meeting his eyes, I returned his grin. “Thanks, Biker Dude.”

Life for Harry and me had been difficult. During our forty years together, we had raised two boys and grieved two others. Two severe car crashes, the fault of others, including a drunk, allowed us to survive but took a toll on our bodies. With so many other unpleasant things happening to us, we began to feel that Murphy’s Law was written specifically for our lives. Yet we stayed together and remained in love.

Over Christmas 2010, our world transitioned again when Harry was diagnosed with what turned out to be Stage II colorectal cancer. We were told he would need extensive surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy.

Once the shock wore off and I went into research mode, we made the decision that the surgery made sense; the other recommendations did not.

The next two years saw Harry trying to come back from the surgery. Another major and emergent surgery was necessary, two months after the first, to fix a life-threatening blockage caused by adhesions from the first surgery. From there he developed complication after complication. His life had become one of suffering and mine had become one of constant caregiving. It was exhausting for us both.

And then, just when he was starting to feel better, he severely broke his collarbone. The healing was slow and painful and it was just one more bit of proof that Murphy and his law had indeed taken up residence with us.

Finally, Harry started to feel good enough to get restless. He dreamed of earlier days and specifically about motorcycle riding. We’d met in the early 1970s when he was out for a ride on his Yamaha 650 and picked me up hitchhiking. I already had my motorcycle license and it wasn’t long before I bought a Honda 350. We enjoyed going on bike trips together and using them for everyday transportation.

When we decided to have kids, we sold the bikes — but with the promise that when the kids were on their own, Harry at least, would get another.

So now seemed the appropriate time for him to get his dream bike. He’d been through a lot; he needed some fun.

Soon after Harry received his Yamaha FJR1300, I scooted onto the back for a ride. I’d forgotten the exhilaration of a motorcycle. When Harry reached around and placed his hand on my knee, I realized I’d also forgotten that electric sensation of falling in love. It was exciting to ride as a passenger, but once a driver, always a driver.

The next summer we decided that my sixtieth birthday present would be a motorcycle. After starting out for a few weeks with a 250, I discovered that my skill set was still sharp. So we bought a beautiful red Honda Shadow Aero 750. Suddenly we found excuses to ride the fifty minutes on challenging, fun roads to a coffee shop in another town. Every day that didn’t rain saw us out for at least a two-hour ride. And the endorphins flooded our brains as we experienced the true cliché of motorcycle freedom.

In the same way as hearing a song from one’s teen years affords temporary youth, our motorcycles have brought back the enjoyment of life. Leaving business and problems at home, we don all the appropriate safety gear, hop on, give each other a nod, and enjoy the twistiest roads we can find. We always arrive at our destination with big smiles, for the ride and for each other.

My phone buzzed again. “Did I tell you I love you, Biker Babe? :)”

“LOL, yes, Biker Dude. But I’ll never tire of hearing and seeing it. :-*”

~Diane C. Nicholson

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