Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Landscape of Maui ... and of Cancer

We got back on our bikes yesterday and rode the half-century (50 miles) that we had planned to do the day we ended up going on our 75-mile odyssey. The route took us up past Lahaina to Napili, where we turned around and headed back.

We took these two pictures at our turn-around point

We had a bit of a headwind heading up the coast, but there was also a strong crosswind coming down out of the mountains. So, our ride back was also fairly challenging at times. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful sunny morning. The lead photo, above, was taken just as we were heading back into Lahaina, and the one below was taken further down the coast.

The most interesting incident of the ride, apart from trying not to get blown off our bikes near the end, occurred when we went through a tunnel (pictured below) a few miles from our starting point.

This is an older picture, taken from the Internet. They now have caution lights that cyclists can activate on either side of the tunnel. On our way back, Mark stopped to activate the light while I proceeded cautiously into the tunnel. About halfway through, I spotted something lying directly across our path, and it didn't take long to identify what it was - a pitchfork. That was a first. 

We made it to Little Beach around 2:00 and spent the rest of the afternoon there. It was sunny and hot, making the ocean that much more refreshing.

It has been a wonderful day, but - like many days - something happened that reminded me that Mark has inoperable cancer. Even though he cycles and is in excellent health (except for the cancer, that is), I am constantly aware (some days more than others) that the day will eventually come when he will no longer be able to do this. Every day becomes precious, but occasionally things happen that make me remember this.

Like yesterday. It was a little thing. We had toasted each other with our traditional cocktail on the beach and, for some reason which I now no longer recall, we reached out our left hands to look at our wedding bands - and Mark's wasn't there. I felt like I had, somewhere inside of me, fallen through a trap door. As irrational as it was, the thought of Mark having lost his ring sent me into panic mode. The symbolism was too strong, and it momentarily overwhelmed me. I felt like something precious - the memories of choosing the rings in San Francisco, the memories of our commitment ceremony, the many times we had held out our hands to look at our rings - were suddenly gone. As I say, the symbolism was too strong, and it deeply effected me.

But Mark said he thought, he was pretty sure, he had taken his ring off and set it on the bedside table - that it wasn't lying at the bottom of the ocean somewhere. Sure enough, when we got back to the condo and looked, there it was.

It was such a little thing, yet not a little thing. This is the landscape of cancer. My landscape. Our landscape. Even though we are in Maui for three weeks and have plans to do more traveling, we know that the day will come when we will not be able to do this. We are making memories. We are spending precious time together. We are making up for decades of not being together, of living in our respective closets for most of our lives. 

People have sometimes said to Mark, "Wow! That's great that you are able to do this traveling, etc. I'm envious." Though he doesn't verbalize his response, he sometimes thinks in his mind, "Yeah? Do you want to trade?"

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