It was a chilly and dark morning as we got geared up, fed, and left the rest stop to head to our Lake Louise starting point.
We soaked in the view as we walked to the iconic lake lookout for the traditional team photos, weaving our way through packs of tourists.
We headed back to the parking lot for the morning dedication… Lynn Fast is Briony’s Mom, and Lynn is a bereaved parent, and she performed the dedication in Briony’s honour.
Lynn is now riding her 3rd full National Ride, with this one being the 10th anniversary of her daughter’s passing. Lynn shared what kind of person Briony was, the circumstances of her journey, and the courage her daughter displayed when the journeys end was in site. She read a note that Briony had wrote prior to her passing, but only discovered afterwards. It is perhaps one of the most soul wrenching things someone could possibly read… within, it contained words of wisdom that no teenager could not possibly contemplate unless they had come to terms with their journey and life’s passing… the words expressed regret to a friend and the genuine expression of love to siblings and her mother… words to deep to be uttered by someone so young.
I think there is a phase… “A mothers love has no bounds” or something along those lines. Not something a “bone headed male” like me would ever dispute …however all I can say is that when she hears the words “your child has cancer” they transform into a force of nature who’s strength has no equal… the love, determination, and hope they channel into caring for their child “truly has no bounds”…they juggle treatments, work, relationships, and God knows what else to be there and ease what suffering their child is going through in the hopes of salvation … my journey into the Cancer world is relatively new but I have already met too many mothers who have watched their children pass, and this is “why we ride”.
We quickly hit the road, and sped like the wind to Banff and then Canmore. In Canmore I was greeted by Cheryl Lawerence-Godefroy and her son Jack who is now off treatment for A.L.L. It was wonderfully hear that Jack was doing well, and focused on being a regular kid in Grade 10 !
We first met Jack at a fundraiser where he gave a speech about his journey as a spokesman for Kids Cancer Care… I distinctly recall standing beside my wife not trying to cry as he described nearly the exact same treatments that our daughter had gone through.
Since then, Jack and my daughter had the opportunity to attend a ‘Teen Expedition camp’ hosted by the ‘On the Tip of the Toes’ foundation based in Quebec for kids going through or finished treatment. The Quebec trip was an amazing experience for Jocelyn… it helped her gain some of the confidence she lost during the harshest parts of treatment and connect with other kids who can relate with what life dealt them… I later learned after signing up for the National Ride that the ‘Coast to Coast foundation’ actually helps fund the ‘On the Tip of the Toes’ foundation program … guess what? It’s another reason “Why I Ride”!
We hit the road again, and met our shuttle in Seebe to be dropped off in Cochrane for the final leg of the day in into Calgary…. our team captain is an RCMP officer who managed to pull us some strings for a police escort through Cochrane and up that leg-burning hill… pretty sweet!
The highlight of the day was to ride into our destination, to be awaited by supporters of the cause, and have my wife Nadene and Daughter Jocelyn greet us.
It’s barely been a week since I last saw them, but it seemed like forever. I think about them every day, and the journey we have been going through, and it further strengthens my resolve to rise to the challenge of what this ride offers.
We were also greeted by past national riders Taylor Wheatley (who arranged for us to get showers and a place to gather at the World Health club) and Chuck Magnus (who graciously paid for all the food we desperately needed… especially after that Cochrane hill). They rode in with us, and It was quickly evident that their connection to the ride transcended “merely riding it”… the emotional attachment and how deeply it changed them is something I will hope will take seed in me. The emotion is there, but the walls may be too high?… time will tell.
Thanks for reading and your support!