My family and I lived near the center of a small, western Massachusetts town for ten years. The center of the town perched on top a steep hill. The road running north and south was Jabish Road. We all dubbed the hill, Jabish Hill. It is a very steep hill that stretches for nearly a half mile on either side of the center of the town.
We were a physically active family. If we weren’t walking, or hiking in a nearby state area, we were riding our bicycles. Riding our bicycles up Jabish Hill taught me a lesson that stays with me today and sustains me in times of struggle.
When I took our five daughters bicycle riding, I rode in the rear keeping an eye on them and hollering out directions – they might say commands or orders. The one ride they didn’t like was a circle route that ended up with us cycling up Jabish Hill. The first time we went on the ride, I said as we began the climb, “Don’t quit, just count ten pedals. That’s all. Ten pedals. You can do it.” We all made ten pedals. Then I said, “Ten more pedals. I know it’s hard. But doing ten pedals is something we can do.” We did ten pedals over and again until we made it to the top of Jabish Hill. We all felt good about our accomplishment. The girls gained confidence. After the first bicycle ride up Jabish Hill, the girls knew to do ten pedals over and again. It was the way you made it to the top.
Ten pedals, over and again, is the way I am learning to live alone, move forward, and enjoy life and tell suffering and grieving, they won’t have the last word with me.