Yesterday, I sat in a coffee shop in Boulder. Two meetings in succession: the kickass @tripplanier followed by @roktott. When I sat down with Jon, I reached over to move a discarded newspaper off the table and a headline caught my eye:
Cyclist Dies After Crash With Pedestrian
If you know anything about me, you know that if it’s got two wheels and my legs make it go, I’m a fan. I begged forgiveness as I flipped open the newspaper to read the deats. And then I saw the picture.
Let’s dial it back to the first Sunday in March. I went up to Niwot to watch my better half race in a criterium (a crit is a circuit/loop-style bike race measured by both laps and time). It was quite a trek from parking to the start/finish and when I landed in a pile of weeds (the ideal environment from which to watch a bike race), I struck-up conversation with a woman named Alison. Her husband, Bill, was racing that day, too.
Over an hour, I felt like I’d stood next to someone who shared with me. Her life, her story. From a career as a professional cyclist to suffering an on-bike stroke that ended her career, to how she explained how she saw me. The stroke had left her partially blinded in one eye and ruined her depth perception. She saw everything from that eye in pixels. I laughed when she said she saw every sixth dot of my face. I asked her to move a little left so she’d miss the zit on my chin.
I could tell you every detail of our conversation that day. I felt lighter, inspired. When we parted, I said thank you (how often do you thank people for conversation?) and that I hoped to see her again soon. I truly did hope to.
Yesterday, I saw her on the front page of the Boulder Daily Camera. That wasn’t how I hoped to see her again.
A woman I met once made me cry this morning. While I make a career out of dropping the f-bomb and being unapologetic for who I am, this redhead can cry. I’m reeling as I think about how many times since I met her at the beginning of March that I’d thought about her.
So this morning, I’m pondering that some people influence us in passing. Maybe they weren’t meant to stay or reappear. They do their fly-by in our lives and impart what they will, leaving us better and forever wondering if they’ll pass our way again. I spoke about it previously in a post about one of my junior high teachers, Mr. Crowley. I’ve taken a lot of time lately to consider who influences me and that I don’t get a second chance to go around on life’s tilt-a-whirl. My feet are never firmly planted but I’m learning to walk (and enjoy walking on) shifting sand. I’m really grateful that Alison was part of the sand between my toes. She made year 37 brighter.
I never get a second chance to do what I do. Sometimes we get so busy that we’re stuck in front of a keyboard on a Thursday morning typing a blog post on a blurry keyboard because we forget what it feels like to feel. The tears roll. We think we’re silly because how can something or someone so fleeting…so in passing…have had an influence on our lives and that there are bigger things to worry about.
But then we remember: it’s the small stuff that makes memories.
Just think: do you remember loving the look of the fruit you bought at the grocery or the sound of your teeth biting through a pear’s skin and the mildly sweet and sandy texture of the first nibble?
What influences you? Share.