Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Impossible Things

"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.  "When I was your age, I always did it for a half an hour a day.  Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

--Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Mile Marker 4403:

My friend Kym believed impossible things.

She believed she would write a hit screenplay.  And she believed Bradley Cooper would play the leading role.  "Why not?"  she told me.  "He's from Philly!"

Growing up, Kym and I shared movie magazines and wrote letters to Hollywood stars.  As high schoolers, we flew to UCLA for a summer media program.  In college, we both studied film.  Then, halfway through my freshman year, something changed.  I decided that dragging around heavy camera equipment was not for me.  It'd be a nice hobby, I thought, but I needed a "real" career.

With feet firmly planted on the ground, I entered adulthood.  I guess you could say I stopped believing impossible things.  Or at least I cut down.

Kym never did.  She continued writing and learned to do voice-overs.  She made small films.  She even landed a role as an extra in the movie Sixth Sense.  She put her ideas, and goals, and dreams out there for all to see.

In our 20's, Kym and I traveled together through Europe.  At every famous sight, she suggested silly poses that made us stand out from the crowd.  I felt goofy and conspicuous, but I went along with it.  (This was long before selfies, so we took turns holding the camera!)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame?

Ok, I admit it was fun!

On our first day in Rome, as we meandered through the Roman Forum, I paused for the thousandth time to look at my guidebook.  Kym stood there restlessly, itching to move on.

"I have an idea," she said, "Let's try to see all of Rome in one day!"

"Why?" I asked.  Why would anyone want to do such a thing?

"Just to say we did it!" she answered.

See, most people --  like me -- would say it was impossible.  But Kym was out to prove them wrong.

Feeling the time crunch, we agreed to explore the city by motor scooter.  Yes, driving ourselves.  On 2 wheels.  Around traffic circles.  In Rome.

At a storefront called I Bike Rome, we saddled up on scooters and signed the waivers.  I dragged Kym over to a display of helmets on the wall.

"No one wears helmets here,"  Kym said, as if I were the crazy one.

"We're not from here!"  I told her.  Even back then, I refused to give in!

It's not in the photo, but I'm pretty sure
I convinced her to wear a helmet!

After a slight fender-bender (a.k.a. Kym's runaway scooter on the sidewalk), we spent the rest of the day touring Roman bars in search of ice for her injuries.  Come to think of it, we probably did see the whole city that way.  Back at the hotel we joked that Kym, covered in bandages, had earned herself a leading role in the Italian media -- as the poster-child for I Bike Rome!

A good enough reason to celebrate!

Fast forward 20 years.

In the summer of 2014, I pass Mile Marker 1900.  And Kym is diagnosed with cancer.

It's impossible to believe.

She eats colorful foods.  She strives to walk a mile each day, even when she's in the hospital.   When she needs to get blood, she makes jokes about vampires.  She fills her Facebook page with artwork and poems.  With all her energy, she sends love into the world.

See it?
Kym finds hearts everywhere: in sunsets, and sidewalks, and bowls of cereal.  And when I see them in my own travels, I take a photo and send them back to her.

Months pass.  Then a year.  Then two.  Kym radiates goodness.  And -- as impossible as it seems -- even good health.

Kym believes she can get through this.  Her plan is to heal completely.  To reclaim her body and surprise her doctors with an unexpected medical miracle.  She is so good at believing it, that for a while, we believe it too.

On a walk one morning, I discover a heart in the alley near my building.  It's nothing special really, just the twist of a wrought iron handrail at someone's doorstep.  But I stop.  Think of Kym.  Take out my phone.  Snap a photo.  Then keep walking.

By the time I reach my apartment and unlock the door, the day has begun.  I make breakfast, answer texts, and send emails.  Wash the dishes, pack my bag, and leave for work.  In the rush, I forget about that heart.  I never send it to Kym.

I regret that one little heart got left behind, that I never took the time to send it.

On the first Friday of October, as I pass Mile 4403, Kym passes away.

Reality seeps through the cracks.  We always think there will be time.  But some things are impossible.

On a much tinier scale, it seems impossible that more than 100 miles have passed without a blogpost.  I'd like to say there hasn't been time, but really it's just a matter of choosing what we spend our time on.

So in honor of Kym, I'm writing again, and putting this message out there:

Do you have an idea or a goal?  A dream or a hope?  Even a heart for someone?

Don't wait.  Launch it.  Send it on its way.

And then, think like Kym.

No matter how impossible it might seem to be...

"Heart on... my Raisin Bran flake!!"
by Kym  /  June 28, 2016