• I Would Have Died Happy

    by Theresa Reichman

    motorcycle ride

    8:45. My eyes snapped open to realize that my daughter was late for school and my husband was late for work.

    He groggily mumbled, “Personal day,” with a smile.

    Before we knew it, we were up and at ‘em, ready to live the shit out of this rare day of familial freedom. With Scot working days and me working nights and weekends, times of togetherness that aren’t tarnished with some sort of obligation are sweeter than cotton candy. We quickly whipped up an itinerary. The main event?
    Dropping the girls off at my in-laws and going on our first real motorcycle ride together since pre-parenthood.

    Scot has owned three motorcycles in the time that we’ve been married. His affinity for cruising the open road has never waned. While I knew that I enjoyed the rides we used to take when we were a newlywed teenage couple, motherhood does things to ya. I soon realized that apprehensions were looming in my mind.

    I arrived at my in-laws’ before Scot. I listened for the rumble of the crotch-rocket to no avail. I looked in the back seat. My sensitive dark beauty and my wispy blonde cherub stared back at me. Frantically, I fumbled for my phone and scrolled through the list of contacts until my eyes landed upon “Stefanie,” the girls’ godmother. I began hysterically punching at the letters on my phone and my eyes swelled with hot tears. My emotions were running amuck. I let them.

    “I’m going on a motorcycle ride with Scot in a few minutes. I know I’m crazy, but just in case… Make sure the girls know how much I loved them. Tell Scarlett that I always dug the way she walked to the beat of her own drum, and tell Cecilia that her spitfire side will take her far. On their wedding day, give them each a dandelion from me, and when they have kids tell them that every moment I spent with them was the best moment of my life.”

    I slipped my phone back into my pocket, gave my girls some love, and a few short moments later I slid onto the back of a Yamaha R6.

    We bounced along back roads and I nervously laced my fingers around Scot’s torso. Whenever we took a sharp turn and the bike dipped a little too much for my liking, I’d swat Scot’s stomach and shout “CAREFUL!” above the grumbling engine. But then I let myself relax.

    If I die today, my children will be raised by beautiful people who love them like blood. If I die today, I die happy. Enjoy this.

    And suddenly, I did. There is an enchanting stretch of about 30 minutes where the road lies beside a river. It curves and curls, and has fluidity with the water that is wonderfully harmonious. We passed old wooden bridges and lilacs dangling from their branches, filling my helmet with their intoxicating scent. The warm wind rippled over my skin and shafts of sunlight streamed through branches and played on our backs. I don’t know if I’d describe riding a motorcycle as sensual or spiritual. Maybe it’s both.

    We arrived at our destination safely. A progressive but quaint town right on the water with rainbow flags garnishing many shop windows and homes. Right as we were sitting down for lunch at the local brewery, I received a text.

    “You’re going to be fine, but I absolutely would tell them all of that. In fact, I plan on writing it down just in case. It’s so easy to love them! Text me when you are home safe.”

    And I had one of those moments where I knew we’d done the right thing. We picked the right people. We chose to pick godparents who would raise our children similarly to the way we would. We – of course – picked people who loved the heck out of our girls. But beyond that, we picked someone who could reassure us when we show a little neurosis but still let us know that if our neurosis turns out to be warranted, they’ll heed our wishes.

    Yes. Parenthood does change you. It makes you think more. It definitely makes you worry more. But one day, when my daughters are mothers themselves, I hope that they are still balls-to-the-walls about living life. And sometimes that might just mean sliding onto the back of a Yamaha R6 and having a damn good time.

    • Great story Theresa. Glad you had fun and it turned out safe and sound. I had no doubt it would be at least you know now that your kids would be well taken care of, but not in the exact same way you would take care of them. They need their parents so just be safe.

      • christy

      • May 22, 2011 at 9:21 am
      • Reply

      Love this because I can totally relate. I guess my anxiety is because all my ducks are not in a row. We really need to make out a Will and spell out custody of Noah issues. Then maybe I’ll be able to let my hair down and ride with the wind – but not on a motorcycle my ER/Trauma physician father would never let me 🙂

      • Joe

      • May 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm
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      Ain’t river road the shit on a motorcycle? So happy you too have discovered it. 🙂
      Do it round about October 12. Take the south nockamixon road over (looks like you know where that is 🙂

      • Judy

      • May 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm
      • Reply

      I know those moments and they don’t disappear even though your child is 25. I think like this every time I get on an airplane or drive I-80. You do a nice job of capturing the way having children can sharpen your sense of your own mortality.

    • Wow, I thought this col. was going to be about motorcycle riding. I thought (that’s twice now) that this was a pretty witty way (“witty way”-sounds like a toy or something) to demonstrate how protective and brave-mom’s are. My mom went on a motorcycle ride too, but she didn’t come back and I don’t think I have any Godparents. I like the picture too, weren’t you scared of the tsunami right in front of you? LOL I absolutely loved this col-made me think- and that’s a chore in itself.

    • Oh, that worry is so familiar to me… it’s so hard to be in the moment when the little ones are one your mind! Even when they’re not so little any more!

      • Roxane

      • May 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm
      • Reply

      Hey Theresa,
      This is beautiful piece.
      Maybe you have a little bit of Nana in you. She and my dad loved riding together, but sometimes she would relax a little too much, and fall asleep!

    • I so enjoy your writing and insights. I sympathize with the worry- admire the letting go!

      • Pappap

      • May 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm
      • Reply

      Love this column. Your Nana and I did a lot of biking in our day. We had a gang of about 12 couples and we would hit the highway around 9 or 10 pm, ride for a while, stop for something to eat and head home. Your mom is right, when Nana’s helmet would start banging against mine I knew I had to wake her up. So stay alert and enjoy the ride!!

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