Louisa, means ‘famed warrior’. My daughter’s name embodies the qualities I admire most in my wife; courage, humility, toughness, and resilience.
At 2 ½, I doubt my daughter thinks much about what it means to be a warrior. For now, she’s all about bubbles.
Bikes and Bubbles
Louisa notices bubbles everywhere. Moments of life captured in dish soap and bacon grease, in the kitchen, or at the park.
Bubbles are fine but I’m more about bikes. Bikes define my career, personal goals, and closest friendships. For the last five years the bike has been a refuge.
Following my liver transplant in 2013, the bike provided a path back to mental and physical health. A path that began with crawling and progressed into racing.
A place to hide
I’m riding through the gravel at the 2015 Chico Stage Race. My heart is pounding at 188 bpm but my mind is surprisingly clear. I’ve worked hard to be fit enough to race and I refuse to take this moment for granted.
One day earlier I learned I’m heading back to the hospital. More complications, additional procedures, a return to uncertainty.
For now I’m choosing to hide in the narrative of a bike race, where holding a wheel matters more than liver transplants and the darkness that comes with a fear of death.
Life feels huge and complicated, racing finite and straightforward.
Life happens now
Louisa sits on the hospital bed, wedged tightly between my wife and me. It’s been a week since I’ve seen her last.
On a normal day I’d be watching her play in the park. Today, she’s trying to make sense of the IV in my arm.
Liver disease will never define me; it’s a mantra I’ve repeated for half of my life but each time I return to the hospital my words sounds less like courage and more like denial.
Louisa sits, holding my hand tightly. Her gesture a reminder that life happens now, not in an uncertain future.
We’re back home on familiar turf. I’m getting ready to ride while Louisa waddles on her push bike. We’re an odd pair, her with daisy helmet and jeans, me with aero helmet and lycra.
I find myself skipping to the future where we ride together side by side, sharing stories of school and friends, of success and failure.
For now we’re both enjoying the simplicity of the bike. A shared opportunity to practice the discipline of now.
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