Yesterday, I was told that my best friend, whose wedding I was going to attend in NYC next week, has lost his brother to some water activity-related accident (i don't have the details as i haven't been able to reach him for the last week). Knowing his family well personally, this came to me as a big shock. First thought was - there is no way that his brother would die like this..i mean, he'd always been excellent in sports and he was just finishing up his 2nd year in U of Columbia Medical School -> a bright future to look forward to.
I quickly called my parents (they were good friends with my friend's parents) in Asia and informed them the bad news...they were in distraught. In the short <10min conversation I had with my mom, she repeatedly told me, in a very broken voice, to sell my bike and stay safe. I told her that I got her point and I know to ride well within my limits on the street and that I only want to try my limits on a safe track etc etc blah blah blah...
but after I hung up the phone, I started thinking:
My friend's brother was a very very careful and responsible person and he definitely was a great swimmer. In other words, I'd assume that I knew what he was doing when the accident occurred. Does that mean, that it doesn't matter how confident I am of what I am doing on the street, shit can always happen where I least expect it?
and that is right!!! Shit CAN Happen.
In the past month or so, we have lost several fellow riders, some to their own misjudgements of their ability to ride, but some to things that we don't expect to happen to ourselves when we are "riding within our abilities." On the street, I rode very carefully and within my own ability because I don't want to die. However, after speaking with my mom yesterday, and contemplating about death myself, I realized that I don't actually fear my own death. Instead, I fear the sorrow I will leave on the people who I leave behind, ie my family, friends, or anyone that remotely knows me.
When I heard about the news of Raz's passing, I cried. I cried mainly not for his death but for the loss of his family. I cried and I didn't even know him personally, just knew him from the posts by him on this board. Think about this, if I was already so saddened by the passing of someone I barely knew, how were the people who actually knew him and knew him feeling? Then, think about how my family and friends would be like if it were to happen to me.
I remember reading CDG's post (don't get me wrong Frank, I am not bashing your post or anything ) about how he was sometimes reluctant to make more new rider friend due to the fear of losing any of them to the unthinkable in the future. I remember agreeing with him at first. We all fear losing our friend(S), and reading another RIP thread and realizing that it was the person I met on the ride a month ago. However, does that mean that I shouldn't meet more people for the fear of losing them in the future? No, I think my connection with all these people, ie family and friends, will only make me more careful when I am doing something as fun and dangerous as riding, because I fear for them, too. I fear for the suffering they will go through in realizing that I will no longer be around, and for this, I keep them on my mind to remind myself to treasure my life and to take care of myself.
I guess what I am trying to say here is, the next time you are out for a ride or just doing anything, think about the people who would be waiting for your return at home, for your call on the other side of the phone, or even for your post on BCSB. Think about them before you take a unfamiliar corner at 3 times the suggested speed or go into a hairpin at 100% of your ability.