For the last four years I’ve willingly agreed to sleep in the back of a transport truck, drive more miles that should be driven in a day and eat more drive thru oatmeal than one blonde lady should without having access to three bears. The Inside Ride National Tour is draining both physically and emotionally and sometimes a bit scary. There are less jarring ways to wake up after a ten hour drive than a rodeo cop banging on your truck all hopped up on authority and a t-shirt that says “Security”. This is life on the road, truly. I used to think staying in a hotel room without windows and making soup in the coffee machine was badass.
When you arrive back home to your own bed and your own jammies, your body knows. It knows to sleep. I’d been off the truck for almost a week visiting family but not my bed so not my sleep. Pillows are weird. Sun comes in at goofy angles in the morning so you wake up discombobulated. Was lucky enough to finally have a bathroom so not wanting to complain but it’s never 100% where you remember it was. A fumbly walk down an unfamiliar hallway is much better than one across an active transport truck lot. That I know.
So this sleep. This sleep at the end. This beautiful long, deserved sleep. My uber intuitive friend Erin named it My Victory Sleep. I like that. It gave me permission to leave all the things. All the things left undone when I hit the road. All the things left yet to do.
Our last event in Victoria doubles as our unofficial “Wrap Party”. That wasn’t the intention but when the “Party Guy” keeps showing up, it happens that way. The “Party Guys” is Rene. The smile with legs. He’s been battling cancer a good portion of his young life and with all of his teeth showing. No evidence whatsoever in his demeanour that he was ever sick. I had to physically pull him off things because he was all “That giant thing, that’s part of life I haven’t experienced fully, I must conquer it!” Not in so many words but make eye contact with him and that’s what you read.
Victoria was a hard party to show up to this year. We all knew that we had lost Rene. He went in one day to get his meds, went to camp that same afternoon, left us that night. And yes I say “we” and “us” because if you knew him for five minutes he was part of your soul.
I shared the mic with him. Couldn’t even begin to share the spotlight. His family generously shared a memorial slide show with us that we silently watched together. Dozens of slides. The occasional one showing obvious discomfort but still all toothy and beamy. You could not take a bad picture of this guy! And we tried. Last year he and I lay on the floor when it was all over and upon his encouragement, took two selfies. One good one, and one goofy one just for fun.
A little smidge of a girl named Ayla in Prince George, who had lost her twin sister the year before, told me that smiles helped fill her bucket. Words that I felt land in me. Thump.
Time for Rene to have his Victory Sleep. He did all the things he could do. Smiled all the smiles that he could. Jammed more life into the few years he had than people ten times his age. Filled many, many buckets. Left me wanting to fill more.
Since 2011, The Inside Ride National Tour has raised $2, 769, 784.17 for kids with cancer and their families. :)
To donate to my ride: Tour For Kids