Fireflies Europe 2012: Finding The Words

I’ve been back from my ride through the Alps for one week and I’m still at a loss for words. It’s not that I don’t feel strongly which causes my silence; it’s that I feel too much at times. “Thank You” doesn’t quite capture it, but it’s a great place to start.

Thanks for the love and support of so many incredible people, not the least of which is my amazing wife Malia. Because of all of you I was able to be involved in something beautiful, meaningful and best of all: something much, much bigger than anything I could ever achieve individually. I won’t bore you with the details of the epic mountains climbed, thousands of kilometers ridden, long days in the saddle, nor the multiple crashes I managed to enjoy. Because those experiences are truly beyond my capacity to explain. Riding a bike with a team, through the Italian and French Alps, for a leukemia charity so near and dear to my heart was amazing. Raising leukemia awareness, money for research and securing dozens and dozens of new heroes to the roster of the bone marrow registries around the world… it feels wonderful. It feels like I can actually do something, rather than “just” sit beside my sister in support. The ride was hard and fun and thought provoking and soul restoring.

After climbing Finestre, I had nothing left. A very meaningful photo captured by Ed Shires of me having an asthma attack + trying to soak in the emotions of it all.

The Final Kilometers of Finestre, Italy. ©EdShires

From the multitalented and incredibly generous Richard Lewisohn.

Traffic jam on the final day. ©RichardLewisohn

And it’s the soul restoring properties of the ride that I will try to explain, because YOU were an integral part of that. The people who supported me physically, financially and emotionally made it possible for me to get away from the incessant world of leukemia induced worry that I live in… and escape to an experience where I believe wholeheartedly in the mission; and where my life is simplified in an elegant & beautiful way. Each and every day during our Tour, my only job was to eat well, laugh as often as possible, and ride hard with a family of fellow riders who were doing the same.

Lake Como Ferry, Italy. Care of super cyclist-blogger-photographer-friend ©PhilGale

Crossing into France. Thanks Michael Nouri for the photo!

When I started riding with the Fireflies, my ride was 100% in honor of my sister, the leukemia survivor. But that’s changed a bit. I still ride for Lea, but I also ride for myself now… and for the families and caregivers out there who are also affected by leukemia. Honestly, I was a bit ashamed at first to realize that I was riding for the joy it gave ME, for the sanctuary from worry that the ride gave ME, and for the hope that it renewed in ME, but truthfully, I’m tired after 6 years of worry and support since Lea’s diagnosis. I’ve been humbled and my fatigue is obvious to close friends and family.  But riding a bike, for whatever weird reason helps. I don’t know why, and I don’t really care to know why: I just know that the anxiety and sadness and frustration I feel can’t keep up with me when I ride.

So to my numerous donors: THANK YOU. Thank you for believing in me, in our cause and our commitment to improve the world for leukemia survivors. I thought of you often. I buried myself in tears and determination and effort and joy for you; in honor of you. Our mission this year was an incredible success. Thousands of dollars raised for cancer research; thousands of lives touched by the reach of our message; and a steady stream of new recruits who are committed to the cause.

Riding into Cannes. Snapped by Matt Cole.

And to my numerous supporters and teammates: please know that you made a difference to me personally. Your smiles, your encouragement when I needed it, your belief in me… wow; what a ride. Your care and generosity was noticed. Thank you.

I’m home now covered in bruises and cuts; I’m physically tired and a little sore, but I can’t seem to wipe this stupid grin of my face. You have taken me to places I desperately needed to go; when I didn’t even really know that I needed to go there. I needed this time to heal. You have restored my soul for another round in this battle with my sister’s post transplant leukemia treatments, and for that, no words can capture my appreciation. Allez Flies! Grazie Mille!

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  • July 7, 2012 - 3:25 pm

    Beth Smith - What an inspiration you are. We have got to remember that regardless of one’s health, every day is a gift and if I do not treat it as such and live every day to the fullest I am really missing out. Great work Brian!ReplyCancel

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