Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mom's Ride

My husband and I fired up our snowachines and went for a ride a few days ago. There was a reprieve from the 80-mile an hour gusts we’d all been suffering through. It was a beautiful crisp winter day; the brilliant blue sky was in sharp contrast to the jagged white peaks of the Chugach. I hadn’t fired up my sled since my mother’s death a year ago.

Mom and I bought matching Ski Doo MXZx sleds a few years back and loved riding from my back yard. We’d cut through fields of powder in the gravel pits along dump road and zip down the groomed El Petco trail. She loved to ride, and I loved to share that with her.

Her sled sits in an enclosed trailer in my front yard. My husband fired it up in the fall to move it, and the sound of the 2-stroke engine rumbling, wanting to tear through the powder, crushed me. I ran my fingers across the bright yellow cowling, looking at the collection of stickers she had proudly placed on every available empty space. The sponsors of my brother’s career as a professional rider all had a place of respect on mom’s sled.

As Scott and I left the yard on our trail, I felt the familiar thrill of riding; the rumble of the engine and the chill of the air that creeps in through the helmet vents. We wound through the twist and turns on the trails and I stood through the whoops. Gaining speed, I felt in control of my sled. The trail took us up Hogback, down the backside and across the riverbed. Soon we were in the powder fields mom and I loved to play in. I killed the throttle and watched Scott play. He would ride up the steep side of the dug out gravel pits and come racing down. My daughter calls it “ making rainbows.”

I closed my eyes and turned toward the sun. An orange glow illuminated the back of my lids and my mom’s laughter echoed in the distance. I could see her, sitting on her sled in her red Ski Doo jacket and black helmet. We were racing, side-by-side, cutting through the powder. I cut in too close and we almost crashed into each other. We killed our sleds and started laughing again, taking off our helmets, faces turned into the sun. It was the same type of blue bird day with rays of golden sunlight cutting through the snow crystals hanging gently in the frozen air.

I sit up and pull on the cord to start my sled. It rumbles to life as Mom whispers, “Lets go, Jen” and I feel her arms tighten around my waist. I take off, zipping back and forth, making rainbows in the hillside and cutting through the untracked snow. Mom hangs on tight, hugging gently as I push on the throttle. I ride and ride, finally meeting up with Scott and falling in behind him as he leads the way back home through the riverbed. I am at peace, overwhelmed with a calm that I hadn’t felt since before mom’s illness. I never dreamt that I would get to sled with her again, but I know she was with me on that ride. Her voice, her arms around me, all felt so real. Thanks for the ride, mom. I love you!

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