Over Twenty Five years ago my mother, Mary Coan, passed away from cancer.
Growing up having lost a parent to cancer became completely normalized to me, I learned to avoid conversations about what my parents did, I learned to avoid inter-familial situations, trying to save myself from the having to explain the situation or be the brunt of anyones overbearing empathy. She is someone who I have distance with, the bond is there but the memories are not, altogether the strength I learned in the face of that adverse situation, is something I can directly attribute to my dad...
However, almost four years ago my Dad, John A Coan Jr. also passed away from cancer.
That was something I was not prepared for, I still wake up some mornings wondering what dad is doing today, I still zone out in the car and wonder how my dad is doing in the house I grew up, both of which are long since gone.
Not a day goes by I don't think of him. He was someone who raised four kids as a single father, completely selfless, always putting our happiness before his own, an attribute that as I have grown has become more apparent and has really put my own life into perspective.
He often spoke of his inevitable grandchildren, and his big plan was to buy an RV and spend the years driving and staying with each one of us, spoiling his grandchildren and hanging with his adult children. A family man, through and through, all he wanted was within his grasp.
I vividly remember the day I got the call that he had brain tumors, I was driving and asked if i wanted to pull over. Of course I didnt pull over, at that point in my life my wall against emotion had been at its highest. But as I arrived home to cook dinner, turning on the stove, setting up my veggie burger, I had to stop. I laid in bed and thought of the inevitable, hoping for an unlikely outcome. I became so caught up in those moments that I awoke the next morning in a studio apartment filled with natural gas, having never turned off the stove.
That choking feeling I felt that morning, continued with me through the following months as I watched his health decline, keeping me from feeling any sense of normality in a period in my life that redefined time, slowing and stopping in moments, while racing through others.
After he passed away the opportunity came up to help people who may be going through the same struggles that he went through, by riding a bike for way too long and asking for donations along the way.
Cancer will effect all of us. You will be staring down the face of it at some point in your life, even if not your own illness, it will be your mother or father, you husband or wife, or your children. In these moments you will need help of every sort, you will realize that the people youve surrounded yourself with, will reach out and help you. And at some point you may need financial help with the mounting debts of dealing with such an illness.
So this year, as in the past four years, I will be riding in The Tour of the Litchfield Hills, in order to raise money for people who are in need while they battle cancer. I ask that you please consider donating because every moment I spend on my bike will be for my parents, who I hope are prouder everyday by who I am becoming and even more so by the people I have the opportunity to surround myself with.