Our friend Diane was hit by a car in November, while riding her bike. She spent over a month in the hospital, in a coma, before her death last week. I think it was hard for everyone who’d known her to wrap our heads around the loss of such a beautiful person, in such a difficult way.
I feel a little self-conscious for taking it so badly, since I hadn’t known her as well as many of our other friends had. Is it because I feel sort of responsible for bad things that happen to cyclists in LR because I was involved with trying to make things better? Is it harder for me because my granny died in such a similar way? I don’t know. When it comes right down to it, loving people means knowing we’ll hurt when we lose them.
And we loved Diane. Each member of our family had a different friendship with her, but each of us really enjoyed the time we spent with our friend. We didn’t ride with her often, but when we did her company was the high point of the day, or of the week. She’d retired a couple of years ago, and she and I had talked about that decision – about how she wanted to have time to learn new things and spend time outdoors while she still felt like it.
When I worked with staff from my office to prepare for and then ride several miles in National Bike to Work Day last spring, Diane asked to come with us. She was surprised and happy to get an ‘official Division of Agriculture’ red-and-white bike jersey that morning, and I was honored that she chose to ride with our group.
I learned some things about our friend from reading the obituary her family had carefully written while they waited in the hospital. I’d known that she rode bikes with us, of course, and that she’d had a kayak. We knew she loved to hike and we were planning to take her backpacking sometime, when we all got around to it. I didn’t realize how much she loved gardening, but reading about that part of her life didn’t surprise me. She’d told Bryan once that she didn’t mind having lots of hobbies she didn’t feel expert in. ‘I just like to be outside’ she said. ‘What I’m doing doesn’t matter all that much.’
Goodbye, friend. Remembering your joy and curiosity has given me some comfort today as I’ve thought about how much you will be missed. We’ll honor your memory by making time for sunshine on our faces, wind at our backs, and dirt under our feet.