The Seven Stages of Grief

“G-d is with me, through my helpers, therefore I can face my foes.”

1. Shock and Disbelief

October 25, 2015 I was sitting on the couch in the hubby’s man cave after talking to Kathy about Michael’s impending departure, weeping as I had five years prior upon hearing the news that my sister Maureen had died suddenly without warning on December 22, 2010 at the age of 51. Mom had just died eight months ago and dad two years before that…

September 16, 2018 – Two years ago today I began writing about my cycling adventures, inspired by the experience of witnessing my brother, Michael, perish after a 2 1/2 year battle with cancer. It seems like only yesterday I was riding Old Bessie and taking random photographs of the things I encountered and posted to his Facebook page in the hopes of cheering Michael up while he wasted away in the hospital.

On September 16, 2015, Bessie and I set off to a place we’d been multiple times before since moving to Cherry Hill six years prior. Following the back roads of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we were in search of the small rickety bridge crossing Rancocas Creek and bringing us to Rancocas Village, a quaint little town dating back to the mid-18th century (May 29, 2018, Where there’s a will, there’s a way….). It was a Tuesday morning with temperatures in the 70s, low humidity and a beautiful clear blue-sky day, not a cloud in sight.

As I rounded the bend leading to the bridge off Centerton Road, I came across a blockade…I actually cried…

Tuesday, September 16, 2015, 11:38 a.m.

Over the next two years, on September 16th I made the pilgrimage back to what I now know as Centerton Road Bridge, each year bringing the disappointing fact that I wasn’t getting across any time soon.

Friday, September 16, 2016, 11:50 a.m.
Friday, September 15, 2017, 12:26 a.m.

2. Denial

September 13, 2018Purge City! Before the kid left for Israel last month, I made a promise to myself to go through the house, room by room, the closets being my nemesis, bins full of memories I hoped to never forget – having lived with Alzheimer’s does that to a person. Coming across the kid’s Jewish version of Flat Stanley (a.k.a. Flat Shimeon) that she mailed to Michael and Liz in 2005, my brain reminded me that Michael wasn’t with us anymore…right?

September 16, 2018 – The bridge will be open today…

Sunday, September 16, 2018, 10:50 a.m.

3. Pain

October 26, 2015Why didn’t I visit more often? What stopped me from just hopping on a plane to visit my one and only brother?!

September 16, 2018 – As Bessie and I sulked our way back home, my thighs screamed for mercy. I hadn’t ridden long distance since the cancer ride on June10th, and I was feeling it. That’s when the Doherty gene kicked in – ignore the pain…work through it…suck it up…

4. Anger

December 22, 2010, April 1, 2013, February 3, 2015, October 27, 2015WHY?!

September 16, 2018 – Why did I wear this pair of capris?! The chamois is way too big…man, does my ass hurt…and why the f**k ain’t that bridge fixed yet?!

5. Bargaining

October 27, 2015If I had only known how sick he really was…

September 16, 2018 – Okay, G-d…just get me to the Exxon station so I can buy some water…

6. Depression

December 10, 2010 – September 15, 2018 I’m not going to make it…

September 16, 2018 – It dawned on me today that every year has given me that beautiful clear blue sky, the only change being the juxtaposition of the blockade and the vegetation being more overgrown than the year before. My angels provided the day…and life has gone on…

7. Acceptance and Hope

Today – No big deal. I knew what to expect when I got to the bridge. Only, there was that nagging prayer that the bridge would be repaired just in time for my return, as if the Burlington County Board of Freeholders knew how important this was to me. What can I say? I’m an idealist – I never give up hope. Eventually we will all see one another again…on the other side of the bridge…a nice pedestrian bridge would most certainly be acceptable to this pilgrim…

Not quite the conformist, I found myself disobeying the signs once again…

…and I made tashlich (“to cast,” referring to the intent to cast away our sins) at this place…

So tell the voice inside ya head to believe it
I talked to God about you, he said he sent you an angel
And look at all that he gave you

Only One – Kanye West

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump