My Wheels

After losing my brother, John, in a car accident in 2004, I began holding onto snippets of memories with him; conversations we held about his love of nature, cycling, camping, etc, and how he drew a spiritual connection from those experiences.  And how he’d adamantly urged me to get a bicycle to share his joyful love of the outdoors.

The year he died, I managed to go to a bike shop he’d recommended, and earnestly looked for a quality bike he’d approve of me buying.  It was a rather large expense for me at the time, and though I’d finally picked a bicycle and was about to purchase it, I was feeling anxious, wanting it to be the perfect choice, somehow, to honor my brother’s life.  I spoke to him in my mind, asking for his guidance.  I felt a little silly doing that, but nonetheless, I wanted his approval because this was something he’d loved and I wanted to cherish and protect that.

I went out to my locked car to retrieve my credit card (an act I do to prevent me from impulsive shopping), and I literally bumped head-first into my brother’s best friend, James.  I was astonished to see him there, as I hadn’t run into him since John’s memorial months before.  Turns out, James was at the shop to check on repairs to a bike that had once belonged to John.

James was happy to give me a second opinion on my sacred bicycle purchase and, in fact, exuberantly cheered me on as having made a really good choice.  So I bought my bicycle, as an ode to my brother–with his best friend’s solid consent, and began my rides through Kentucky rolling hills.  The following poem is one I composed about my experience riding that bike, together with my brother’s spirit…

Loss inspired cycling and nature-exploration for writer Jenny Leigh Hodgins

Loss inspired nature-exploration and cycling for writer Jenny Leigh Hodgins.

My Wheels

by Jenny Leigh Hodgins 2006

Cherishing the slap of the wind against my face

As I ride my wheels through the bike path

I feel your spirit next to me, embracing fresh air

Marveling at gorgeously green leaves

Cute, quick bunny rabbits

Graceful birds in the sky

Frothy waves crashing on a quiet beach

I ride alone, or with a new friend by my side

But always, you are there with me

Like the skateboarding youths on the other side

Or the red-haired boys eating ice cream or

Diving into the sandcastle walls on the shore

I feel your energy, pushing my pedals

Steady to the beat of my own breathing

There you are, your voice providing silent

Commentary on the exhilaration of the outdoors

Laughing at the joy of moving fast

Under the warm sun, to the sound of bird language

Or crumpling leaves underneath

The thrill of rolling wheels down a steep hill

The silence of the blue on the water’s waves

A golden farewell of an inflated beach-ball sun

Rolling beyond the horizon of vast ocean

You are there, in the air, in the floating clouds

Drifting far away above me, and yet, at one with me

Sometimes, I can feel your big arms around me

Bear-hugging me from your invisible seat in the universe

Or hear your cocky laughter in my ears

When the memory of one of your silly antics

Crosses my mind as I remember our moments

Together in this life—

Before I started riding my bike to be with you again

To make quality time with your spirit

‘Cause I know you would love my wheels

and the distance I have pushed myself to go on

For the sake of our bond, my dear brother

Let’s go ride on…

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