Out of control!

I’m careening down a big hill on my bicycle at full speed. There’s something wrong with my brakes and they won’t engage. I can’t stop. Inches to my left, a constant string of semi trailer trucks thunder past me. The noise is deafening. The wind they buffet sucks me towards them, then it violently shoves me close to the precarious edge of the road: a narrow shoulder with a sharp drop into a bottomless chasm below. I do my best to stay on the pavement. At this speed it’s so difficult to maintain any control. The trucks leave me in a cloud of dust and oily diesel exhaust. I can’t breath. I’m shaken back and forth as truck after truck scream past. I have no way of anticipating their coming. I’m moving downhill so fast now. The stinging wind fills my eyes with tears. I can barely see. I can barely hang on to the handlebars. The thought enters my mind to just completely let go and end this ride.

The bottom of the hill approaches. The traffic disappears and I’m left in an eerie void of silence. Am I completely alone out here? The grade reverses and I begin to climb. My bicycle feels heavy. I reach for an easier gear on my shifter, but there’s no effect when I push the lever. I’m forced to push this big gear. Grey clouds have formed above me. It begins to rain. I look up. I can’t see the top. Is there no end to this mountain? Despite my heavy breathing, I just can’t seem to get enough air into myself. My heart races. I can feel the throbs of my heartbeat in my temples and it initiates a headache. My saddle feels uncomfortable. I’m fatigued. I’m drained. If only I could get just a little rest… Still, I climb.

I crest the hill. Is that the sun trying to come out through the trees? My water bottle is empty. I look for respite. Is there somewhere to stop and catch my breath? There’s nowhere to pull over and before I know it I am once again starting the long descent to the bottom. I’m unprepared for this. My body is still exhausted from the affects of the previous slippery slope. Out of control! Here I go again.

The road is long. Hill after hill, the cycle repeats itself. I’m faced with long, tiring climbs out of the valleys, only to be met with the scary predicament of yet another bone-shaking descent. It’s such a long road.

* * *

I’ve been a recipient of bereavement counselling services from the Cowichan Valley Hospice Society. Grief can be quite the emotional rollercoaster, and last year I fell apart in a bad way. I was directed to the hospice. I have benefitted so much from their support. The hospice provided me with tools and techniques to help manage my grief – to get me back on the road again. Through bereavement counselling, I’m now able to revisit events in my mind that had previously been too traumatic to explore. For instance, I can now recall the night that Jasper passed away: no longer as a nightmare to me, but as a beautiful special event that was surrounded in the love of a family. Hospice has counselled me so that I can explore those traumatic events – without the end result of experiencing an anxiety attack. I can return to them and find more than just anger, frustration and sadness. I recall the good memories as well now.

The load of grief is a heavy one. It can weigh you down with anxiety attacks, loss of sleep, depression, and thoughts of giving up. I’ve learnt that you don’t have to carry that load alone.

Onwards we go…

Onwards We Go – a memoir by Stephen Mohan
can be purchased at the Cowichan Valley Hospice Society

Music: Kaleo, Way down we go

(Click this page’s background to play and listen)