Note from Kiersten: This post was written by my Aunt Juni. Juni is about the same age as my oldest sister Matilda, so while she is my aunt she has grown to be a close friend. Each and every one of us has a story and their own “flat tires” to deal with. As Juni and I have grown closer we simultaneously have developed a larger passion for biking. I hope to have Juni continue writing at The Leaky Tube.
We live in a small town, with a large biking community. Many have seen the value in putting a child on a bike, and are putting together groups for these kids to be able to ride. The confidence that comes from climbing that hill, or navigating through the giant sand hill, the rush of flying down a hill with trees whizzing by. My Kat has become a much better mountain biker than I ever was, and probably ever will be. I cannot keep up with her. Tonight my Kat is riding for the second time with the regional high school mountain bike racing team, it was supposed to be an exciting night for her, instead it was healing for many.
It was drizzling off and on tonight as it had been all weekend, the sky seems to be mourning with our little town today. There was an ATV accident that took the life of an unknown 14 year old girl over the past weekend. Today at school the unknown became known, and very personal to my Kat. It was a very hard emotional day, as she realized why a seat in many of her classes was empty. Kat didn’t know her well, but she knew her. It was the first strike of death of someone so close to her own age. It was a realization of how life can be taken so quickly, no matter how old you are. As Kat listened to conversations throughout the day, she found herself thinking about how she might feel if it was her in each of the different situations surrounding the accident. Kat shared with me how the whole school felt different today, how she couldn’t wait to escape to the busses after school, but the feeling on the bus was the same. She was grateful to be home, to feel the love and safety that was here. All afternoon, Kat struggled to keep the tears in, and kept me close to her, she needed contact. After a while she asked me if she could still go to bike club tonight. As much as I wanted to hold her close, and not let her go tonight, it was exactly what she needed.
When I dropped her off, it was a very somber group that she met up with to bike with. Many were feeling loss tonight, they were all looking for something unspoken about the ride tonight. Two hours later I watched as she emerged from the woods with her tribe, her comfort, her people. The first of the group stopped when they came to the clearing and pointed, one by one they all looked up and saw a beautiful rainbow, smiles came and one quietly whispered “it’s her, she’s letting us know she’s ok.” They each smiled at one another, and silently split to head home. There was a different feeling after their ride, a healing of the souls happened as they rode through the woods.
Tonight on her bike, Kat found her voice, her freedom, and her peace, she is smiling again (covered in dirt, but smiling). Today I am once again grateful for her love of biking.