Friday, July 6, 2012

The Gift

When I settled onto the saddle this morning, I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable my hiney was feeling. After two weeks of hard cycling, I'd developed some sore spots, one on each buttock. They weren't so bothersome that I couldn't or didn't want to ride, but they let me know they were there. A little shifting on the saddle usually took care of the protests, so I was looking forward to an extended period of not being on the bike to see if the soreness would ease. It did, making today's ride very comfortable.

We left out of Pueblo, heading west towards our goal of Westcliffe. Everyone had been murmuring about the 14 mile climb facing us, and a couple of people had let the looming climb get into their heads a bit too much. They just couldn't get into a good, solid rhythm and only talked about how difficult the 14 miles were going to be. I've reached the point where I don't look at the map for anything other than making sure I'm on the right road. I don't check the elevation chart, the part on the back that lays out what the hills look like. What good will that do? The hills aren't going to change, and I'm still going to have to get up them one way or another. So I just saddle up and ride.

When we reached the point where we started up, I settled in and started climbing. While going up, a strange thought occurred to me: Mom having MS was a gift. At first, I couldn't believe I actually had that thought, but then I began thinking it through. While no one wants to hear a diagnosis of having MS (or any other disease for that matter), once diagnosed a chain of events begins. In Mom's case, family surrounded her and supported her. My dad was her primary caregiver the entire time, attending to her needs with love and care. Everyone who knows my parents saw this and benefitted from seeing how two people reacted positively to something very negative. My siblings and I stepped in as much as we could to give Dad breaks, giving him time to regenerate and have time to enjoy the things he liked to do. Several times, my daughter and I stayed with Mom while Dad went away on fishing trips or other trips. She and I learned what it meant to be a caretaker, and through our time with Mom, we developed stronger, more loving relationships along with memories we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

For me personally, this cycling trip would never had happened if Mom hadn't been diagnosed with MS. I wouldn't be riding across this magnificent country, meeting so many wonderful people, and helping those living with MS. I wouldn't be surrounded by my teammates who are funny, compassionate, smart, and wanting to help people they don't know. Some of my teammates have no connection to MS in any way. After covering over 2200 miles, they've  learned just how prevalent it is and are so much more aware. That awareness means they will tell others, encourage others to become aware, active, and involved in helping find a cure.

So yeah, I do think Mom's having MS was a gift. I know many would disagree with me, and I do understand why they would disagree. Pain and suffering hardly seem like a gift. But so many good things can come from the pain and suffering. I'm seeing those good things every single day.

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