A Personal Story of Loss and Moving Foward

Don

My Husband – Don

Last year, July 26, 2015, my husband of almost 49 years was killed in a motorcycle crash. I was riding ahead of him and, thankfully, did not see the accident. I heard something and turned around and was at his side.  He had been killed instantly after losing control of his bike just before a curve, going into the oncoming lane and hitting a truck head-on. He had no external injuries – he was gone.  It was a miracle that the family in the truck was not hurt at all.

Of course, I could not ride my bike home. I was in shock that lasted for quite awhile. A friend and neighbor that we had been riding with took me home on his bike – I don’t know how he did it – he and Don were close, close friends – he was caring for me in Don’s place. I wasn’t afraid. I knew that something had happened to my husband. He had multiple health issues. The curve was a curve that a beginner could take at 50 mph.  Although I will never really know what happened, I know that an experienced rider would apply their brakes if they were able to, especially in a situation like this. He did not and I do not believe he was able to. I believe something had happened to him physically and he could not do anything.

I rode again about 3 weeks after his death. I did not know how I would feel about it so, I followed my son, who was riding his motorcycle, to his house and then let him know I was fine and continued on alone.  I have had lots of people question my decision to continue to ride.  My husband died doing what he loved most – riding in the beautiful mountains of Idaho.  I had become an even more avid rider than he was – mostly due to his declining health and the constant pain he was in. Some have said that – maybe he shouldn’t have been riding.  I know this – if he had known he would endanger anyone, he would never have ridden. I also know this – you have to live life.  He was living and loving life. A dear friend, whose son was killed in a freak accident while riding his motorcycle, stopped by the day after my husband was killed to tell me exactly that – you have to live life.  It was an unexplainable accident and, sadly for those of us left behind, accidents happen.

I love to ride, my son loves to ride, my friends love to ride and so – I continue to ride. I knew from day one that riding a motorcycle could be a dangerous thing. However, I also knew that most of the danger comes from things other than the rider!  Cars, trucks, deer, dogs, rocks, a blown tire. All the same dangers that anyone on wheels has to deal with.  It’s just that, on a bike, there is nothing between you and the danger except leather, helmets and air.  For my husband, none of those things could have saved his life – he had on all the gear. Sadly, the State Police decided that he had to have been speeding – there was no other option. They are wrong but, because I cannot prove it, it will remain that way on their reports. He was a very good, safe rider but – that was their assumption which they could not prove either!

Sometimes, life is just that way. No matter how safe you are, no matter how hard you try – things happen and, sometimes, the outcome is bad. However, it does not mean that we all run into our homes, lock the doors and avoid all danger. Instead, we live even though life is filled with danger.  I love to ride. I am a safe rider and a good rider. Our lives were so enriched because of riding that I cannot imagine stopping – my life is still enriched by it.

My life changed forever on that day. I have not been angry; I have not blamed God, my husband or anyone. I have been sad, grieving and I miss him so much but, I am deeply thankful for what I have and what I had – 49 years with a wonderful man who loved me with everything in him!  I have 3 sons, 3 daughters-I-love, 7 grandchildren, and a rich life filled with family and friends who surrounded me through all of this and – who ride with me.

I wanted to share this with you because I’m sure there are some out there who have lost a person they care about in a motorcycle crash.  Not every motorcycle crash is the fault of the rider. Most of us do not stop driving cars because we heard about a car crash that killed someone. We don’t stop going out our front door because someone else fell on the way out their door and died. We continue on. We are meant to live life to the fullest – not to be crazy, or dangerous but – to live and enjoy all that we have been given for every moment of every day we are given. Yes, I wish my husband was still with me but, I know where he is and I know he is happy and free of sickness and pain. I will continue to ride for as long as I can and live my life to the fullest each day with gratitude in my heart.  I pray that those of you who have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident will find peace and comfort – I have.

One thought on “A Personal Story of Loss and Moving Foward

  1. Fleda this is beautiful – I’m glad you and Don and your kids have this wonderful riding bond – you are so right, we have to ride on. . . Life is about moving forward and cherishing the people and memories who helped us become who we are especially the ones who supported us in love and freedom. Makes me smile to think of you on the open roads – as Walt Whitman says “Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me…”

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