Finding time to write, time to train, time to do anything outside of the daily grind of living requires discipline, planning and passion. There never seems enough hours, especially for a single Mum with a two year old who runs a company and lives on a large property, but I’ve stopped making excuses. Waking up to the kookaburras singing outside my window at 5am this morning I considered everything I had to do today and what would make me feel good, something to achieve before breakfast that would set me up for the day. The nagging feeling that I needed to write down another story was too powerful, so with minimal sleep after another hot summer night I set forth.
Cycling was our life. We had met racing on the Great Ocean Road sharing a house with a group of friends. He had just started seeing a woman with flaming red hair and brought her along for the weekend. Travelling to Lorne with a girlfriend who was also new to cycling, we was there for a fun weekend having only decided at the last minute to join the event. I was also sick with the the star of a flu so not an ideal start to the weekend of competition!
I’d never believed in love at first, a romantic notion for those blissful dreamers. But the moment I met Russ I knew there was something special, the energy between us so powerful. We barely spent any time together that weekend but in that brief second, the look, the feeling, I knew life had something special in store for us.
The next time we were to meet was in a private hospital ward, Russ high on endone after a bike crash with a new metal plate in place of his collar bone. We had planned to meet for dinner at a local Italian restaurant to discuss my cycling trip to Italy to celebrate my upcoming milestone 40th birthday. With minimal cycling experience I had set myself the goal to ride the iconic Stelvio Pass, a mountain pass in northern Italy bordering Switzerland at an elevation of 2,757m, the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps! Impressed he’d wanted to know more and always dreamed of riding Stelvio and other great climbs of Italy and France.
Lying there with a barely a sheet covering him, I looked at this very skinny yet handsome cyclist dozing peacefully and waited patiently in the uncomfortable hospital chair for him to wake up. I hadn’t told him I’d be visiting and thought it would be a nice surprise. Finally opening his eyes he grinned ear to ear and jumped into action offering me water and some of his hospital meal which had remained untouched beside him. No one could have predicted our future that day and in that in the next few years I would see him in and out of hospitals countless times, sick with worry and ultimately become his primary carer. Staring at untouched hospital meals would become a pattern until I spoon fed him his last meal as he was barely conscious in palliative care.