When I was 5 years old, my dad decided it would be a good idea to take the training wheels off my Strawberry Shortcake bike and send me down what I thought was the biggest hill in town.
This hill just so happened to be right in front of our house. It spanned a block, ran past the old fire hall and the library, and dumped you right onto Main Street. I don't know which is more appalling: the fact that he sent me straight into traffic or the fact that he did so without me wearing a bike helmet. Those of you who know the Main Street I speak of know I'm being facetious here. With a population of 400, traffic wasn't exactly an issue. And I don't think bike helmets were even invented yet.
Anyway, there I was freckle-faced and 5 years old perched at the top of the hill, legs shaky, stomach a little queasy, but as ready as I was going to get. Dad put his hand on the back of the bike and we inched forward just a bit.
"Ready?" he asked.
My memory's a little fuzzy, but I'm pretty sure he didn't give me a chance to answer.
Picture me - eyes wide, knuckles white - and dad, jogging to keep up with my wobbly wheels. The pace picked up a bit. And then it picked up even more. And...
He'd let go.
And as soon as I realized I was on my own, crash!
Man, that hurt. It hurt bad.
With skinned knees and snot rolling down my face, I looked at my dad and just knew.
I had to get up and do it again.
Thirty years have passed and I often find myself in the exact same spot.
This grief thing has knocked me down. It's knocked me down pretty good and I want so desperately to get back up.
So I try.
I've been trying to put myself out there, trying to get back to the land of the living. But I often find myself in the same spot: legs shaky, stomach a little queasy.
Sure, I do OK when I have somebody by my side. Most times that's Scott; other times it's a friend who's good at running interference for me.
But what am I to do when that person can't be there? I certainly didn't expect my dad to ride around the neighborhood with his hand on the seat of my bike for the rest of my life (OK maybe I did) and I certainly don't expect to have someone to act as my crutch from here on out.
So there are times I ride solo.
And it hurts. It hurts bad.
But it's more than skinned knees.
It's a bruised heart. A broken spirit. Hurt feelings.
And I get back up again.
So yeah, it's just like riding a bike.
Only it's not.