I'm not riding today.
Today is not a day for riding. It is not a day for me. It is not a day for getting exercise, training, wearing Spandex and riding bikes. It is a day about support for someone I love. It is a day of strength, reflection, and without a doubt, plain old heart crushing grief. Today, I am the support system.
Six years ago today, my wife's son, who I have taken as my stepson, Matthew Beard, died of injuries sustained by a drunk driver who slammed into his car he was riding in on I-95 in West Palm Beach, FL. For Connie, the holidays mean revisiting the horror of learning her only son had been in a crash on December 21st, 2006, and spending the next week in Delray Beach Medical Center Trauma ICU as her son, never recovering from his crash induced coma, slowly slipped into death. Each day she kept vigil by his side. Each day she prayed for him to open his eyes. Every day, when the nurses allowed her to, she spoke to him and sang to him. He could hear her, she knew that, as when she would quietly and gently sing "Arms of an Angel" to him, tears would stream down his cheeks. He knew she was there. Mom was with him.
She was there when the doctors told her that her boy was "brain dead" on December 27th, and that she would need to give the order to stop the life support machines. She couldn't do it. She couldn't kill her son. Matt knew that she couldn't do it. He did it for her, and on December 29th, 2006, at 12:33 a.m., he died, on his own.
So, I'm not riding today.
Today, I reached over to Connie in our warm bed and cuddled with her and held her. I am making her breakfast this morning and some tea, I think. Today, I just need to be here with her. I know I cannot take the pain away, and I can't bring Matt back, but I can make sure that Connie is not alone in her grief, especially not today.
I often talk about depending on others to support those of us who have a mental illness to help us be strong and get well or better. It is in times such as this, with Connie, that also speak to the importance to taking care of ourselves and getting help when we need it. It is not only to help us in our own struggle, but when we are needed, and we are the ones whom others need to lean upon, we can be strong enough to be there for the ones we love. Today, I am the one who is the pillar and the shoulder to cry upon. Those who have helped me, supported me, and given me strength couldn't have fathomed that when they prompted me to seek help, that they would ultimately help support a mother whose only son was abruptly taken through a senseless and preventable crime. The lesson here it that those who are in need can and will become those who are needed, and caring, support, and compassion for others is in the end, the foundation upon which we find our own strength.
That's why I'm not riding today.
If you are so inclined, light at candle for Matt at: