Monday, July 13, 2009

Life In Yellow

So, it is Tour de France time. This may or may not mean anything to you, but in this house Tour Time is a big deal.

The Tour de France is the granddaddy of cycling races, made famous in recent years by the athletic feats of Lance Armstrong. You will notice in any photo of me that I am wearing a bright yellow LIVESTRONG wristband. I took the band I currently wear off of Phil's wrist as I sat beside his beautiful body in the emergency room trying to grasp the fact that he was dead. He wore this particular yellow plastic circle for at least a year before his death, and I have been wearing it in his honor for the past four.

Anyone who came to Phil's funeral left with a livestrong band, because Phil loved the message this yellow campaign represents...never give up. His mother was diagnosed with Leukemia about seven years ago, and Phil felt an even deeper connection to the Livestrong Foundation knowing they were providing support, encouragement, and resources for people fighting cancer. All this, plus the fact that Lance Armstrong kicks butt on steep hill climbs made Phil a lifelong supporter of the Livestrong movement.

So as I watch the cyclists battling up the intense French hillsides, I remind myself that I have hills to climb too. When the uphill battle of grief makes me want to throw in the towel, my little yellow band reminds me to never give up. Phil didn't, and I won' least not today!

The photo above is of me and Paul Sherwen at the Tour of California. He is a longtime cycling commentator and former English cycing pro, and to say I was starstruck is a serious understatement!


  1. Isn't that actually Paul Sherwin? Phil is the other cycling commentator. Both terrific anouncers. We enjoy watching the Tour with them every year.

    We love Lance's message of hope via Livestrong too. My best wishes to you and your family.


  2. Michele,
    Jim, too, was an avid cycler and wore that bracelet the last year of his life. We had planned to go to France to see the Tour ..... which would've been 6 months after he died.
    They MUST be watching it together up there ..... doncha think?

  3. I have mixed feelings every time the damned Tour comes around each year. Charley died in the middle of Lance's 7th win on the Tour, and Charley's death during the hoopla surrounding Lance's racing that month just gave it more fodder for the news. His death--and our tragedy--was just "human interest" that got plastered on the local news for a week (or at least it felt that way), and I was horribly torn between being touched that the news "cared' (ha!) and horrified that they were simply trying to cash in on my husband's death and milk it for all its small ratings' worth.

    And somehow, I have really strong negative reactions to those Livestrong bracelets. I don't really know why. Charely's dad has wired one to his niche at the cemetery, and a part of me wants to rip it off every time. I wish that Charley HAD died of cancer instead of being killed on his bike, because then maybe I wouldn't have had some of the rage I've experienced as part of the legacy of his death--and particularly the way in which he died. (He crashed into a pole during an organized race and died instantly; I wasn't there and found out from the police 2 hours later.) Sometimes racing just makes me so...rage-filled still, because it's what killed my husband.

    In some sort of bizarre, convoluted widow's "logic," that is. ;o)

    Looking forward to the conference this weekend! Hope I might get a chance to run into you at some point; I don't run across too many other cycling widows. Thanks for organizing the whole thing too! =)

  4. But then again...I've never looked into what the actual message is behind it, nor did Charley really latch onto it before he died. Grief is never logical, is it? ;o) Hugs! (And thanks for this post too. =))