I’m sat in McDonald’s eating my French fries, which are smothered in salt. It’s hot and I’m pretty tired, even though it’s still morning and I’ve only covered a little over 20 miles. My bike is leaned up against the wall just outside the side door, always in view.
I catch a beautiful lady out the corner of my eye, wearing a green t-shirt with a slogan on. I like the slogan (sorry I’m not sharing it). She glances my way and I obviously pique her interest and half expect her to speak to me, but she sits at a nearby table. Despite my on-line self confidence, I’m far too shy to initiate conversation (and I say to myself – you fool Derek).
She’s leaving and casts me another glance. I know she just wants an excuse to talk with me and also know when she steps outside she will find it. Sure enough, she returns and asks if I’m the cyclist. We laugh, because it was such a dumb question. This lady is no dummy, that’s for sure. We chat, about her own battle with cancer and mine. I’m asked if I’ve considered going to one of the specialist cancer centres here in the USA and I’m too embarrassed to say it’s not possible, for many reasons, but funds being the main one.
Then she drops the bombshell: “what do you need?”
I mumble that I’m not used to asking for things, but wish I was not such a coward. I know exactly what I need. How do you tell a complete stranger the truth? That I need someone to ask me to stay a while so I can enjoy living a ‘normal’ life and offer the chance to get to know me. That I’d just like time without the pain, which has now spread to my lower back. That I need to stop worrying about dying and enjoy living.
“If you need anything call me, I can make it happen.” She’s speaking the truth, she almost certainly could. I want to speak out, but remain silent. Then she leaves and I feel I have lost something.
The cycling (and pain) make it easy for me. I can handle it. I can write my blog and everything will be fine. It’s so easy to wear a mask, it eventually becomes part of you and you stop even noticing you’ve got it on.