I met with the Big Blue Girlfriend today. For the entire thirty minute ride to the garage, tears steadily streamed down my face stopping only for a short conversation with my principal regarding work stuff and, of course, questions about Terry’s recovery. I flipped the switch from diligent wife to responsible employee back to diligent wife in seconds. Of course, I had multiple offers for rides and company all of which I politely declined. This was something beyond personal, beyond private. I can only describe it as a spiritual necessity. And I had an overwhelming need to do this alone.
Once I knew where she was I felt an incessant drive to get to her. I needed to know how this mass of metal made it through this ordeal. Still not having the police report, I was grasping for answers so, perhaps, I could start putting the pieces together and figure out what had really happened.
She was standing, almost haughtily, in a gravel parking lot beyond a locked security gate. Hidden from view by shiny black canvas, I imagined the place she rested to be so much larger and isolated. In fact, the yard was nestled in a residential neighborhood just off the same highway where she went down. The smell of oil and grease penetrated the hot, sticky air. It was almost 90 degrees, yet, I had a distinct chill in me.
After a quick conversation with the owner of the company, I was told the gate was unlocked and where I would find my quarry. Carefully trudging through the gravel drive, I forced myself to breathe steadily. Taking deliberate steps, I slowly strode to our designated meeting place. Without pausing, I strode into the lot and was stunned at what I saw.
It was not the large pile of debris from the crash site next to her that astounded me. It was not the twisted and bent pieces of metal which were covered in mud that stopped me cold. Nor was it shredded pieces of fiberglass from the tour pack that drew my eye. It was what I found, neatly placed, on Terry’s seat.
Coyly smiling up at me in his Army fatigues, was a picture of Sargent Michael Ingram, Jr. His handsome face adorned the scuffed dog tag that had been hanging around Terry’s neck at the time of the accident. Again, time and space seemed not to exist at that moment. I sucked in my breath and held it for a moment. Here was my answer as to how Terry survived such a horrific crash. Mikie was there.
I was told that the debris field was over 250 feet wide. The bike bounced across the highway after the crash and slid into a ditch full of murky water next to the road. Terry slid and tumbled over 100 feet across the hot asphalt. His belongings, including $47 dollars that had been on the bike, were spread over the newly sown cornfield. Friends of my husband who rolled onto the scene say they did not know it was him lying on the pavement due to the amount of blood covering his face. By all rights, I should be a widow on this day yet I am not.
As I sifted through the mud covered belongings, I found the bright red shirt (it was Red Shirt Friday, after all) that had been cut from his unconscious body. I also came across his vest with some patches over 25 years old. Many of the wristbands from past rides still hung around the handlebars. The bright yellow duck that had a home on the left rear antenna was gently collected as well. With scissors in hand, I crawled under the bike to find both Guardian Angel bells still hanging with zip-ties beneath.
I stood in front ofThe Big Blue Girlfriend and gave her my thanks. Skimming my hand over the fairing, I rubbed her scuffs and bruises gently. I cried when I leaned over the place where the windshield once was and hugged her. I told her I loved her even though I never showed it. The entire time, I held Mikie in my dusty hand.
To all my friends who feared I was approaching this ordeal by myself, do not fear. I was far from alone. From the moment I walked into that junkyard, I was flanked by a brave young man who was taken from this world too soon and a broken but still beautiful bike that is unlikely to see pavement again…