and worthless. A new friend recognised the hurt and rejection in my life and paid attention. That was all the was required! The attention this new friend paid did not solve my problems, nor did it rescue my marriage. It was more than that. The attention the new friend paid to me validated my presence on this planet and gave me a sense of self-worth and a sense of belonging. Now it was my turn to validate someone's life by opting to die.
My Saturday morning was interrupted by a phone call. "Hey uncle John, lets go for a beer?" My 30 year old nephew works away and was back for the weekend. I don't get to see him often, and agreed to meet him at his biker clubhouse. My nephew is a radical motorcycle rider. Puts the bike on the back wheel, high speeds, with lots of stunts and tricks. He is the reason his mother, my sister, has ulcers. He has fallen many times. Landing in hospital on a few occasions.
He caught up with me as I travelled out of town to the little pub. Dodging in and out of traffic he raced away, only to slow down in order for me to catch up. He danced around me on his motorcycle, popping wheelies and performing stunts for my benefit. I groaned inside. His mood indicated that he was in the mood for a wild party. I on the other hand was not so keen. Little did I understand his intention for the meeting.
After the initial conversation of: -how have you been? How is the job? What's happening in the love life? - His tone changed and conversation became very serious. "I have won the court case" he sombrely said. He gave me the details of how the proceedings had progressed. A serious bike accident had resulted in 19 operations and damage to his one leg. The injuries and psychological factors had hampered his ability to keep a steady job and earn a decent living.
The accident had been a source of turmoil and torment in my nephews life. The burden we shared was that he left from my house on the night of the accident. We had spent the day watching Formula GP and other sport while having a few beers. When it was time to go, I told him I would take him home. I lived on a farm outside town, and the road was difficult, especially at night and on a bike.
He told me that he had to be at work early, and needed the bike for transport. "Fine," I said, "lets load the motorcycle on the back of my van."
"No, don't worry uncle John, that monster knows her way home." was the sharp reply.|
I spent ten minutes trying to talk him into letting me take him home. The farm road would be dark and littered with donkeys from the rural village and possibly stray cattle. He insisted he would ride his bike home and all would be fine. Reluctantly, I agreed with a - phone me as soon as you get home - warning!
"I'm not going to phone you. If you get a phone call it will be from my mother and I will already be in hospital." With that he climbed onto his bike and disappeared into the darkness.
An hour later I received a phone call from his mother to say he was in hospital. He had a head on collision with a truck rupturing a testicle, breaking his leg and rendering him unconscious. The list of injuries was long. I got into my car and drove the road to the hospital, screaming at God for allowing this to happen.
I didn't talk to God, my sister or to my nephew much after that. Feeling responsible, disappointed and angry I avoided them and others, choosing to withdraw into myself. As I write this I realise the introversion I went into probably played a role in my divorce that happened three years later. As we sat in the pub, he leaned forward and told me he felt bad ignoring the events of that night for five years.
In his own struggle to survive, make ends meet and find a life for himself, he said he had put the event aside not realising that it may have had an effect on me. Recent events in his life made him think about his life, our relationship and that night. As the tears streamed down my face, sitting in a biker pub, this young man told me how he regretted not bringing it up, and apologised for leaving things unsaid.
He expressed how it would give him great pleasure to take me for a ride on his bike. He explained to me that not seeing him nor experiencing his passion for riding is to miss the best of him. Those that choose not to go on the bike only know half of who he is. To get the whole picture of him, his feelings, his world, his complexities - can only be gained by being on the bike with him.
I agreed. "I have got to lock shop, so pick me up at home in 40 minutes." I got into my car and went to my workplace to lock up. On route I prayed: Lord, this could cause my death, but he needs validation, he needs to be acknowledged for his growth and development and mostly he needs to be accepted. I know the value of being validated, acknowledged and what it means to my own worth. It was time for payback.
As I drove, I sent messages to the people that are important to me, affirming what they mean to me, acknowledging how much I love and appreciate them. In 40 minutes I said goodbye and was ready to die. Sounds dramatic I know, but the history of the person controlling the bike and the route we were going to take did not bode well for returning in one piece. I chose to go with, in the face of death, that in the event we returned alive and well, a young man would feel accepted, acknowledged and approved.
I asked God, that if possible it must end quick. I asked God, that if possible, I would like to return alive. I climbed in behind my nephew with a smile, placing my life in his hands. "I respect you uncle John, and your little girl" he said as we set off. We took the route past the farm I lived on the night he had his accident.
It was a mad dash, on the back wheel, dodging traffic (even leaving the road at one stage) at 240km/h. It was a high speed connection with and validation on a life that needed to be reconginsed. I was calm on the ride, even with all the performances, knowing my life belonged to God, surrendered completely to the person in control of our fate.
Here I sit, writing an account of the day, aware that in the time I was on the back of the bike my values and worth changed, shifted and re-aligned. As much as my nephew may feel validated and accpted, I felt loved and worthy. I know it may seem like a paradox, but my choice to die in order to celebrate life may be more about the celebration of my own life. Recognising and acknowledging Gods value for me.
It has changed how I think about my future, and it will surely change the way in which I relate to those around me. So, to my nephew I say, thank you for the opportunity to be me, to die in order that I may live. You are truely a Transformer of destiny. Love you D.