Commode To Joy

finding happy (even in the crappy)

Keeping Someone Close (When They’re Far Away)

I have another Mexico story for you. One that doesn’t involve poo.

Our resort was very spread out. Extended golf carts regularly made circuits on wide walkways offering lifts to guests. Additionally, bicycles were available for the duration of your stay.

Mark and I got fitted for our Dorothy-esque bicycles complete with baskets so we could bike a four-mile paved path around the property.


This is a good time to say that I was one of the very last kids in my class to learn how to ride a bike, something my mother pointed out regularly in attempt to “motivate” me to learn. I didn’t care.

I didn’t care if I was the last one to figure it out, and I didn’t care that a classmate had been bicycling since she was four. I cared about not creating a Jamie skidmark on the sidewalk and found the easiest prevention was by not getting on the blasted bike.

Eventually, I figured it out. I still find riding a bike a little terrifying, and not in a fun, thrilling way. However, I’m willing to do it when conditions are right.

Right = dry, temperate climate with widely paved, preferably shady path and close-toed shoes.

Okay I’m kidding.

Not really.

I made Mark take the lead on our outing – duh – so he couldn’t witness my wobbly steering. That’s when I spotted it: The “Troya” logo on the bicycle seat.

Bicycle Seat

My brother’s name is Troy. He’s always looked out for me in that classic big-brother way.

My freshman year of high school, I was in a particularly loathsome algebra class. Walking to that class – a class he’d also tremendously disliked – I passed by my brother’s graduation class portrait. I’d look at his picture and think, If you survived it, so can I. I can do this.

Every school day that year, my brother walked with me to that class. Not physically, of course, but I could imagine him so clearly it was like having him with me.

Troya. The back of my husband’s bicycle seat became the equivalent of Troy’s senior picture. I can do this.

We biked on bumpy patches of concrete, around palm trees, and crossed streets. As in streets. Like what automobiles drive on.

We biked to a little village with shops and eateries. We stopped at a cenote, an underground cave with areas of water (way cool and worth the cycling).


please note the close-toed shoes

Only once did I have a close call when other bicyclers got a little too close for comfort, and I veered off the path. Thankfully, I caught myself while still vertical. And yes, Mark had to wait on me to catch up again.

The whole time, I kept thinking of Troy. So much so that it reminded me of how I think of Dad. I was caught off guard at first, because I’d previously only associated that kind of fond reminiscence with death. But no.

It’s not a reaction spurred by loss; it’s spurred by love.

It’s the same type of reminiscence I feel if I walk into my son’s bedroom when he’s not home. Or if I pick up one of Mark’s shirts and it still smells like him. Or when I’d glance at my brother’s senior picture as a freshman.

[bctt tweet=”The ability, or willingness, to carry someone with you is always available.” username=”CommodeToJoy”]

The ability, or willingness, to carry someone with you is always available. Whether the person is on the other side of town or on the other side of life.

Is my dad really with me when something reminds me of him? Yes.

Was my brother really with me while we bicycled in Mexico, even though he was nearly 3,000 miles away in Central Illinois? Absolutely.

It’s not just about physical proximity. It’s not even about life or death.

It’s about seeing, hearing, smelling, experiencing something that reminds you of the person and acknowledging it. Acknowledging them.

All of a sudden you’re not just recalling how they make you feel – you feel like they’re with you. And in a way? They are.

That feeling is a powerful one. Pay attention to it, and it’ll accompany you through high-school hallways, across bike paths, and beyond.

Categories: Death & Grief, Encouragement

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6 replies

  1. i love this sentiment…. and agree whole heartedly. xo

    • I thought of you so much when I wrote this! Considered thing in your sentiments on what it means when you miss someone, but it didn’t weave together. Maybe one of these days. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. This made me smile. The remembering is something many refuse to do but it is an exercise (or life habit) that I am very familiar with! Wonderful post!

  3. Thank you for posting this Jamie! I lost my dad four years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t want to pick up the phone and call him just one more time. Or get in my car and drive to his house for one more cup of coffee, one more hug, just one more day with him. I get it. I know how much you miss your dad, that’s how much I miss mine. Thankfully we get to carry them with us and all the good memories too. My mom worked with your dad for years at the elevator. My family misses your dad a lot. Keep writing! Your posts are a highlight in my day 🙂

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