(Drawn from memory. May not be to scale.)
My bike was stolen from my front lawn last week. It is a one-speed bike with a skull flag and a lightning bolt on it. The lightning bolt and flag may have been removed. This bike was brand new from the store. NO REWARD. I don't even want this bike back. I just made these flyers to tell you I hate you, bike thief. I hope you ride my bike without a helmet and get hit by a monster truck. I hope my bike takes you straight to hell."
Last Monday was an extremely emotional and traumatic night for me. It was the night that the love of my summer-- the gallant black beauty that carried me everywhere I went, the sole reason I feel like I've gained back a piece of independence I was missing for a couple years-- was stolen.
My beautiful, black hybrid/road Trek bicycle.
(I have a history of naming my bikes and pretending they were horses. It stems from my adolescent years. We had a pink bicycle named Berry and my first black stallion, Topside. I would imagine that we were galloping in forests together, and pat their handlebars.)
One moment, T-Rex was chilling out, tethered to a parking metre in the Downtown Eastside, situated next to the St. James Church while I was inside meditating, and the next moment (moments, forever), he was gone.
The irony of the situation is not lost on me. Downtown Eastside. Church. Meditation. Gone.
The grieving process is a funny thing, in that it applies to inanimate objects too. As I stepped out of the Church, very in tune with my breathing and in a state of calm that I had strived to reach for all summer, I walked past where my bike should have been (because it was no longer there, and I had therefore forgotten where I had locked it) and ambled a couple blocks before I realized and came back.
Came back to nothing. Head scratch.
Then, Denial. I must have checked and stared at the parking metre a zillion times (Did T-Rex suddenly become INVISIBLE?), walked around in a daze as comprehension of the loss failed to make it through. I wheeled back towards the now locked doors of the church, trying frantically to find the buzzer that would allow me back in.
Around this time, a gentleman who had been sitting on the bench on the opposite side of the street, probably watching me work myself into a tizzy, came towards me with concern.
"Are you okay? The buzzer to get back in is right there," he pointed.
In a half-rage (that's pretty much all I'm capable of, this being that processes grief like nothing, but views Anger as kryptonite) I asked,
"Have you been sitting here long??"
"I was just at the park, and then maybe got here twenty minutes ago?"
"SOMEONE STOLE MY BICYCLE!"
He looked incredulous and outraged on my behalf and muttered, "Shit!"
Regrettably, he mentioned that bicycle theft had really increased and was a huge problem in the area. When I bemoaned that I didn't understand how this had happened, I had locked up my bike dutifully(!), he made the motion of gigantic, sharp clippers.
"You know, this stoop is usually where I sleep, so if I had been here, no one woulda stolen your bike," he said protectively.
I thanked him for his concern, and rang the buzzer to get in the church.
Two of the ladies I had just meditated with, came out. I blurted, "My bike's been stolen." They looked at my face, and one of them said they would drive me home. I started to unravel inside. (Sidenote: compassion always does that to me.) As they urged me to report it to the VPD and we started walking towards the car and away from the scene of the crime, the Grief hit me like a wave.
One of them stopped and asked me if I needed a hug.
I started sobbing on this stranger's shoulder.
Just uninhibited, gasping, inhales and exhales of grief.
Then, these two women who didn't know me from Adam, took me to a coffee shop to get some tea. If you've been around me long enough, you would know that I normally can only process big emotions like Anger and Sadness by myself. Maybe with a loved one. Never with strangers.
But it was like strangers were popping up out of the woodwork to be with me in this time.
One week to the day of the incident, I wish I could tell you that T-Rex had found a way (following the scent of my hair, no doubt) back to me, but I have not seen hide nor tail of him-- though every black bike I now pass makes me involuntarily heave hope into my throat.
What I can tell you though, is that something as simple as a bicycle theft taught me something I needed to know on this journey I'm undergoing.
Eckhart Tolle says that there are no problems in life, only situations in which you have a choice either to accept what is, or take action. Acceptance of your given situation is a thrilling and peaceful thing. My bike was stolen. And yet I am still here; I still thrive. I accept that he is gone; I accept that I have the means to get another bike when I'm ready.
Then there is the meaty and humbling notion of Gratitude, that whistles its way into my pockets and fills me up. Gratitude for the homeless man who consoled me, the strangers who took the time to feed me warmth and tea. Gratitude for having the means to buy another bike, knowing that I am lucky enough that this 'loss' is not a huge blow to my bank account. It could be, for others.
Yes, loss is hard. But acceptance & gratitude seem like pretty nice after-gifts, if you think about it.
I sure will miss you though, old boy.