My friend, Michelle, died yesterday while riding her bike. She was hit by a car while out enjoying the day and doing something she loved. I have been at a loss for words since I heard the news. Please bear with me, because I think I may have found a few words tonight.
Michelle was an amazing athlete, person, mother, wife and friend. Our boys (her youngest son is 2 years older than my son) started swimming together 8 years ago. I had an 8 year old, 5 year old and 2 year old. That season, we chatted a few times, cheered on each other’s son on in his respective events, and had a good time. Shortly after the season ended, Meredith was diagnosed with type1 diabetes. By the time the next season started, I was a complete wreck. At the first meet of the season, I traveled 3 hours alone with the kids (now 9, 6, and almost 3) and was a little nervous how the meet would play out. I was worried about blood sugar dropping, not being able to care for the older kids while I was caring for Meredith and missing Holden’s events.
When I saw Michelle at the meet, I smiled and avoided eye contact, as was my norm since diagnosis. An hour or so in to the meet, Michelle came over to me, told me she knew about Meredith’s diagnosis, and offered to help if she could. Michelle was a nurse. And she seemed to understand this disease that had taken over our lives more than I did. I thanked her with tears in my eyes (I was really trying not to cry…again), and knew for the first time since diagnosis, that I was not alone.
Throughout the years, Michelle always encouraged my kids at swim meets, cheered on all of the kids, and was “the swim mom.” She always talked to Sydney and Meredith and always asked me how Meredith was doing. She supported our JDRF efforts as well.
Michelle was an avid athlete…often seen running, biking, or swimming. So, when she heard that I had decided to take on my first JDRF Ride to Cure, she texted me and offered encouragement. She told me about the Monday night women’s rides that she coordinated and encouraged me to come along. I was nervous and felt out of place at my first ride, and Michelle hung back with me and chatted and helped me and was there for me.
The day after one particularly difficult training ride with my JDRF team on a Sunday, she sent me a text and asked if I was coming to the Monday ride. I told her how awful I did on the ride the day before and wasn’t sure I wanted to go. She had her way, and I showed up at the ride. The route was hilly….I’d been on it before and had to walk up a few of the hills. I was not looking forward to doing this ride after having a hard ride the day before. But I did the ride. And for the first time in my life, I made it up those hills without having to walk. And Michelle was at the top cheering me on and crying tears of joy with me when I conquered the last one.
Last year, when I told her I was riding in Death Valley for JDRF and I was terrified, she was so excited for me. She told me it would be the experience of a lifetime…and she was right. She was happy to hear that I am going back this year. And she sent me a text a week or so ago telling me how excited she was to get out and ride this spring. I was too and we messaged back about our Monday night rides and getting back in the saddle.
Michelle was my riding mentor, my friend, my encouragement, and a smile whenever anyone needed it. I’m sure she meant more to me than I to her. But she was my friend, and she will be there with me whenever I am on my bike, taking on a new challenge, or helping someone in need. Michelle touched more lives that I can even imagine. I am proud to say that I knew her, and I hope someday,she will feel the same about me.
Rest in peace.