Certain events since the bicycle adventure Debbie and I had in 2010 added special meaning to our recent Altantic Coast bicycle tour. I frankly didn’t know whether I would be trekking long distances again, despite Debbie’s almost immediate pleas for a follow-up tour. I was soon reminded that good health, if not life itself, can be perilously fragile and short-lived. Those things that we take for granted can quickly be snatched away, like high-pressure air escaping from a punctured tire.
Early in 2011, after cycling 3,500 miles the prior summer and maintaining great conditioning with regular visits to the gym, I developed a blood clot in my leg, the origin of which still remains somewhat of a mystery. I had no idea what the slight ache in my knee was until looking down at my two bare legs one evening. I did a double take–the right one seemed twice the size of the left. A visit to the ER confirmed the unthinkable–a blood clot with a typical recovery period, once blood thinners were administered, of six months to a year. You must be kidding, I thought. A blood clot? I’ll get over this in a few weeks. I just bicycled 3,500 miles last summer and, just a few weeks ago, I never felt better. After nearly two months lying on my back, crutching to the bathroom and back, and having Debbie wait on me hand and foot, I began to realize this wasn’t going away any time soon. One year later, I was still recovering.
While I was nursing my clot my mother encountered all sorts of health challenges before succumbing in January 2012. What a long and great life she lived. Nevertheless, it was a reminder that we don’t live forever. After her death, I was taken off the blood thinners and continued to exercise the leg, which still had not returned to its pre-clot state. I’m told, it may never. But I’m not complaining–it works just fine and I don’t have any physical restrictions!
As the clotted leg continued to improve, another unimaginable condition struck. I came back from a work trip to Maine dizzy–dizzy for several days. Back to the doctor I went. This mystery ailment was diagnosed as Vertigo. Vertigo? I thought. You’re kidding.
But they weren’t kidding. Once again, I couldn’t even drive a car, let alone ride a bicycle. Several weeks later, the dizziness seemed to subside. This is unacceptable, I thought. I’m healthy–I’m not going to allow this to keep me down. Deep down, though, I wondered whether future bicyle trips were in jeopardy. After all, good balance is a key component of navigating on two wheels. How thankful I was that I had bicycled with Debbie across the US two years earlier. Maybe that was my only chance to do so. As I improved, I wondered whether we should move up any more long distance trips before the next unexpected event happened–to either of us.
Some things are out of one’s control. None of us are invinceable. But God, with His abundant grace and mercy, lavished Debbie and I with another unforgettable gift this past summer. You have but one life to live, so live it well. Live it to minimize future regrets. And don’t waste time. If there are relationships you need to reconcile, extend forgiveness or reach out your hand. Share the gifts you’ve been given to the less fortunate and the oppressed. Chase worthy dreams with a renewed passion and vigor. And pursue and discover peace with God while you still can. For, you never know what lurks around the next corner.