Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Bicycle

Yesterday I made my usual early Saturday run to Wal-Mart for dog food, general supplies, a phone card for one of my kids, etc. On my return my husband had also gotten up early, and our newest son, James, while shovelling in cereal, said, "Dad's not here. " crunch, crunch. "He took a bicycle to the dump". "Whose bicycle ?" I asked. "I dunno" said James. "Just a small bicycle". I headed for the phone on the off chance that it was Daniel's bicycle. I called my husband twice, whose cellphone is often dead on a Saturday, as the charge only lasts five days. Without saying anything more to J. I headed to the car and drove the long distance, deep to the pine forests where the small local dump for our small rural community is located. I got there, and found Daniel's precious blue bicycle, down deep in a dumpster about 12 feet below the concrete platform, soon to be crushed by the compacter. It looked sad as it lay twisted atop an old metal roof, dented metal cabinets, and another bicycle which looked newer than Daniel's. I asked the attendant if there was any way that I could get the bicycle back, and before I knew it I had told him why and tears were streaming down my face. The gentleman went to quite a bit of trouble to get down to the dumpster below the platform and climb in it, to rescue Daniel's bicycle. By that time, my husband had remembered to plug his phone into the truck and it was charging. I told him that I was at the dump and that my car is too small to bring the bicycle home. He agreed to return and take the bike home.
When I saw him I was enraged. "How could you dump Daniel's bicycle behind my back, when I'm not home, without even asking?". He looked sad. He said, "Daniel never had a bike." "Daniel had three bikes !" I said. "This was the first one, and it had training wheels and I took them off and (our eldest son) Adam and I taught him to ride". This had been no small feat because most of the area around our homes are farms and we have dirt roads or gravel roads, and no blacktop. I was sad when I realized that my husband was telling what he believed to be the truth. When the other kids were born, we both returned to work. We both juggled daycare and schedules, and kid's sick days, but when Daniel was born, David's work schedule intensified, responsibilities to other relatives took a lot of his time. It was also the first time I had been able to essentially remain at home with one of our children from birth, even though I did write articles from time to time. While I did everything with Daniel, including homeschool him and his siblings, David was at work, in a difficult accountable job without a great deal of encouragement. I realized yesterday that while I taught Daniel to balance on that bicycle, and Adam ultimately helped me remove the training wheels, and as Daniel met that milestone, David was seventy miles away, going to meetings, designing systems for buildings etc. and tangling with clients, governmental authorities, and the business owners themselves. His hard work bought me the luxury of being there for Daniel at every turn. It is no wonder that David does not recall Daniel's bikes or that he learned to ride and when. This was a privilege that David bought for me with his labors, and although David did share other important memories with Daniel, this one had been mine alone.
I think it's important to remember that although we all grieve the loss of our family member that we each bring a package of different memories and that we may not have recall or understanding of everything, the way another family member might. I also notice that Daniel likes a lot of DVDs and TV programs that I simply didn't know about, but were well known to all of his siblings.
Best wishes to everyone. I am not sure what to do with the small bike, especially since it's too large to bronze and place on a necklace. A dear friend has since suggested that we hang it as a remembrance high in the barn, as a symbol of a heavenly bicycle.

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