Today’s post is about a bike ride 7 years ago. I will never forget what it felt like that day - what I lost, and what I gained.
I would love your support as I continue sharing my most personal essays - like this one about my mom. If you have a mom to hug or call today, please do. If you’ve lost someone, too, consider sharing a little love note about them in the comments. ❤️ To receive all posts and support my work, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Thank you!
It occurred to me while on a bike ride that I would never see my mother again. She had been gone almost 9 years and still, it hadn’t dawned on me. There, pushing hard down the road, riding home, hurrying to get home before dinner, the thought crossed my mind. That I would never see her again.
After years of reassuring myself that there was a heaven, that her soul was there and mine was here, and that there would be a grand reunion one day, there it was: Doubt.
Suddenly all the waiting and holding on and biding my time and coping, seemed to be for nothing. All the remembering and trying to remember and still, years had passed and nothing had come of it. No sign of her, no huge faith coming over me, no reassurance anywhere from anyone that I would ever see her again.
It seemed clear, at last, on that back stretch of old road: She was gone.
It was a shove to my chest, a curtain dropped, a complete whiteout. I dropped my head, doubled over my bike, going hard, struck.
One minute I was considering the burn in my legs and cutting a straight line down the old back road. The next I was suffocating, gone, blank.
I lost things in quick succession: first her, then God, then heaven, then - any faith at all. One terrifying thought came after another. What if I’m wrong?
I tried to calm myself, to reason that there was a whole world of people who worshipped and therefore there must be something, someone, somewhere. But no, my heart went still, silent, unwilling to go there anymore. I had to accept that I didn’t believe, couldn’t believe. Not anymore. Where was the proof, the signs I'd been looking for for 9 years?
There was no end to my grief. It had robbed me like this before, but this, this was something more. The last of hope and faith. I had been waiting for nothing. The reunion wasn’t coming. We would never lean into each other again, my hand on her arm, pulling her in tighter, laughing, always.
It happened fast.
Some 9 years later, and the finality of her death arrived. I saw the hum of the pavement below me, a gray blur, and heard nothing for one endless moment.
She’s not here. She’s not here. She’s not here.
I hadn’t cried for her in over a year. But it was on me again, so fast I couldn’t see. I biked without thinking, past the corner, past the horses at the farm, past the mowed meadow, past the huge white tent set up for a wedding that had yet to happen.
I biked through endless seconds of white, terrifying grief. And I didn’t look up until I was approaching the modest tan ranch home I'd biked by a thousand times.
For years, an old man and an old woman had sat on the front porch, in any weather, and waved at me every time I rode by. But this year, all of this year, their chairs had sat empty. I had wondered where they’d gone, fearing the worst.
Today, he was back.
A single, thin figure on the wide, warm porch. I was so surprised that I didn’t wave. He waved anyway, without hesitation. He had seen me coming, maybe seen my loss spinning out down the road ahead of me. Maybe seen me lose my way. Maybe seen it all.
I looked again to be sure: She was gone.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Kandace Chapple, Michigan Girl to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.