To my avid 15 to 30 readers.
Now that I am back to work full time, the inspiration to write has most certainly come less often. I think there is something about being outside, listening to the wind, feeling the warmth of the sun or the chill of the night, seeing the stars or the ruffle of the leafs of a tree, hearing the sound of water as it flows in a river or creek, that stimulates my mind into thoughts about who I am and what my place in the world might be. Many of us don’t want to be perceived as boring and so I recognize that the inspiration drawn from my adventures tends to be something much more intriguing to the reader then the mundane that so often comes with selling light fixtures. But my lack of sharing comes from more than just having less adventure in my life.
Since the start of the year, team Ginger Strong has been in full force fundraising and gearing up for Cycle for Survivals’ 2016 season. This is my third year being part of the fundraising efforts and leadership for Team Ginger Strong and it has been our largest and most impactful year yet. We doubled our fundraising total from 2015 and now have raised over 450,000 dollars since Kelly and I’s first ride in 2014. This effort was led by so many, with my brother, Justin and my friends Dan, Eric, Jeff and Connor taking on a remarkable role this year, along with the continued support of Text100 and lastly and most importantly, Kelly’s family. Yet in a lot of ways, I struggled to find my motivation this year, my energy. My health has been an issue of contention since the middle of December. Staring in the middle of January, I lost my ability to exercise without consequence, and I am still dealing with significant swings in energy, back and chest pain, nausea, lightheaded spells and disorientation. I can go from feeling like I can run a marathon, to having to lie down for 30 minutes or an hour while I wait for it to pass. I’ve most certainly have found my own ways to manage the symptoms and maintain some sense of functionality, but the difficulty of it is not loss on my psyche.
In 2015, in the wake of Kelly’s passing, my mind was filled with my own grief and the handling of so many others. I dealt with missing Kelly, her voice, her smell, her smile. I dealt with the sadness of so many who had lost her also, her family and friends. Their time had been cut short by the standards we expect of human life, and it had been I who got to experience her, to spend time with her in those final years more than anyone else. But I was also motivated by her. Kelly was a warrior and so I would be one also, I would get up and fight much like she did, I would find happiness and enjoy each day at a time. For the most part I did this, I sought adventure, I sought happiness and Joy and so often I found it, even if it was riding on the back of something truly disheartening.
But 2016 has been very different, and it’s not so much the lack of “adventure” that has dictated this, or the lack of some motivating factor. If anything, Cycle for Survival should have been the next step in so many that keeps me powering along, putting a smile on my face, experience friendship, family and that high that comes from a good sweat. But it didn’t and I think it has to do with not being healthy these past two months. For the first time I think I’ve an understanding of what it must have been really like for Kelly, to actually experience any sort of similar emotion to that which one goes through when their body is failing them.
No, I will never understand the impact of having a terminal illness like Kelly did at her age, but over the last few months I have had those moments of realization of how much of a solo mission struggling with health is. Yes it takes a team to fight cancer, and our support of those battling the disease is so important, but I think, even though I’ve said before that you can’t take someone’s cancer from them and carry that burden for a day, that I am truly beginning to recognize the magnitude of that, the reality of how many people feel alone in the fight with their “health”. Even in the case of Kelly’s, where she had a large support system, she must have felt so alone at times. How difficult that must have been for her, how afraid she must have been. Every time I go in for a test or blood work, I think of her and how she must of felt and it crushes me as she must have felt 1000x the weight of what I feel. I’ve spent my whole life feeling like superman, feeling immortal, untouchable. Even when Kelly was going through her fight I was never worried about my own health, I, like so many who are healthy, believe wholeheartedly that I will never be sick like that.
It’s remarkable that it’s been over a year since her passing and I find it more taxing on me than it ever has been. The mind deteriorates and my memories fade. Her clothes no longer smell like her and its rarer and rarer that I can remember that smell with vigor. It feels like I’m losing her more now than I’ve ever had. This previous summer and fall, when I pushed myself physically, it so often felt like it was just me, her and the obstacle I was over coming. For over 80 days I’ve not been able to get to that physical point and it scares me that when I get back to it, if I get back to it, I won’t be able to recover that sensation, that I won’t be able to find that place again, that peace.
I never purposely set out to write something that is the opposite of uplifting, but I could tell when Kelly would share the bad with the good, there was a power in it for her. I am also a firm believer that life, it’s very much about the range of emotions we experience. The sad is equal in many ways to the happy. That is probably why I loved Pixar’s film Inside Out so much. It’s ok to feel like shit, be upset or unhappy about something, it reminds us of how awesome feeling good is.
So to end on something more positive, Cycle for Survival was remarkable for team Ginger Strong this year. From the release of Kelly’s video, to so many taking up larger roles on team Ginger Strong. I was so worried about whether I would be able to maintain everything, but I know now, after seeing everyone who has joined team Ginger Strong and become part of its leadership, that I don’t. Kelly’s legacy is being cared for and maintained by so many awesome people, its part of so many people’s lives now and will live on in so many people hearts, and that’s beautiful.
I want to leave you with one of Kelly's and I's favorite phrases, and one that I shared at our last event this year, because even though the dark is very much of what makes us human, it's what drives us to get to that place of happiness.
Let me Live where there is Light
Miss you Muppet,