I got back into the saddle on Wednesday. Having spent 7 long tough hours touring London overnight on Saturday/Sunday, the break was well earned. Spinning was tough, but it wasn't the workout itself that pushed me further than I'd anticipated but the emotions I connected with as I defied lactic acid and worked to achieve several cardio peaks amongst the hill climbs and flat sprints.
My towel came in handy, as I found myself mopping my brow, and dabbing my eyes. Tears came, more fully later. I was inspired to buy a bike by her. I upgraded that bike with her guidance in mind. She was the first person I called when I realised my trusty Langster had been stolen in Islington. She encouraged me to put the deposit down on my first roadbike. And this week she's being feeling crappy.
The tail end of chemo has hit hard. It's no longer nausea that troubles her, but joint ache and fatigue that kick in a few days after cannulation. Cycle Seven was done and dusted last Friday, but the side effects endured well into the following week. I struggle to think of her unable to get up and go the way she always has. It baffles me to think of her finding it difficult to bounce back.
Charlotte is tough. She is made of strong stuff. The strongest to come out of the hardy North East, to be precise. This alien has met its match, but the recent rounds of this enduring battle have been long and drawn out. Even the finest and best polished resources are finite. They require regular replenishment, and there is no room for extravagance where energy is concerned.
Being firmly grounded is essential. Cancer brings you down to earth with a crashing thud, and there is only one recourse - to get up. Remaining realistic is a gift, and one that needs reinforcement by trusted individuals sharing an outlook.
We none of us know what the future holds. We can't. It was never in any of our hands, and certainly isn't now. And this is why sometimes I get off the bike feeling like I've been in the ring with an international heavyweight - the emotions that bubble up when someone you love is going through what she is are indeed heavy.
I am coming to terms with another version of powerlessness. I am accepting that life has changed. Inexplicably but undeniably, life is not what it was. But then that's all we ever can rely on - everything changes. Nothing stands still. Somehow, spinning my legs round and round, on a motionless bike in almost darkness accompanied by loud music focusing on little else but my breathing ('in yer nose and out ya mouth') is exactly what I need, to impress upon myself this noble truth.