I sat in the car after yoga adding to my grocery list. I stared at a kid with his bike on the corner, but visualized my refrigerator crisper—how many carrots? Had the cabbage gone brown? The light turned green and the boy had a moment where he had to push his legs hard to get the peddles going. The front wheel wobbled furiously, his arms twisting this way and that to keep balance, and I could see the worry in his face: recognition he might need to put his feet back down and start over, or fall even, and then—and then he had it—he gained momentum and confidence and glided across the cross walk.
I remember my own daughter learning to ride a bike. The frustration, the torn knees. She had such determination to do this thing that appeared impossible. I remember running behind her, the blades of her shoulders jutting, her oversized helmet tilted to the left, her tiny legs moving so fast.
This is it, I thought as she rode away from me. Here we go.
That’s what I want to tell my patients and families: all of our life we have those moments where we wobble, where the front tire doesn’t want to hold us. We fall or we won’t, we are confused and unsure and the only true thing is that we are meant to be there, on that bike, with our hands gripping the bars hoping for control. Who knows how may times we stop and start again.
When all seems lost, we are up out of our seat, our legs pushing harder than it feels possible. Our feet grip desperately, heart pounds, the peddles gain momentum. We level. We level and ease back into what had before been natural.
Sometimes that means one of us will ride away from the others. We’ll see the back of their neck, the length of their sturdy back. We’ll wish for more time, think of all things we meant to say. Sometimes we’re left on the black tar pavement alone, knowing this was how it would end up.