It is more or less three weeks since South Africa’s olympian passed away. I am only writing this post now because I have been concerned that people may be offended by this post. It is not my intention to offend anyone, I am merely sharing what this event had taught me about life.
Firstly, I learned about empathy. When the first memorial ride was organised, I wondered what would be the point for me to attend, and if it would mean anything to Burry or the ones touched by his death. I have never met him, and I don’t know him, so what right do I have to be at his memorial. I eventually decided to go to show my support. At the memorial I became very emotional. Again, I was questioning how one becomes emotional over someone you don’t know. I realised that the emotions I were experiencing weren’t out of fear and weren’t emotions I needed to analyse to find the root of a fear, but rather were from a place of love. Feeling these emotions was an understanding and sharing of the sorrow his family must be going through, and an act of empathy for their pain.
Secondly, I learned that I am allowed to form my own opinions. I generally don’t form opinions because most of what I believe in life I believe based on my gut feel. When people question or challenge me on my opinion or view, I fear that I won’t have a valid back-up to support it. With Burry’s passing there was a lot to be said of taxi vs. cyclist and death penalties for injuring cyclist. I didn’t always share everyone’s viewpoint, and I am allowed to, because I base it on my perspective. When people question me, it makes me think about my decisions and that is good. It doesn’t mean they will change my mind, but different views are inevitable in life.
Lastly, I learned that you don’t have to like someone to empathise with them. I don’t KNOW Cherise, but we race in the same group and I have had opportunities to ride alongside, behind or in front of her. I don’t particularly like her. She is a very aggressive competitor and will easily push you off the road if it means she can get in front. But when I heard the news the first time, she was the first person I thought of and my heart went out for her. I put myself in her shoes, and could feel the sorrow it would cause if it were my husband. When I heard later that she held him in her arms on the road, my heart bled for her. All I could think of is holding her in my arms and giving her as much support for as long as she needed. Cherise, my heart still goes out for you, and I am deeply saddened that your life plan had been cut way shorter than you probably ever dreamed of. Most people will say stay strong – I say allow yourself to be weak and endure the sorrow, it is the only way you will eventually heal.
There is only one thought that keeps nagging at me. Apparently Burry went ahead while Cherise and his dad stopped at a shop. I don’t know why he decided to go, but if they didn’t stop it could’ve been Cherise or his father. If he did stop, maybe he would still be alive. Hindsight gives so much clarity, but most of the times it is icy cold and hurts tremendously. All we can do is learn the lessons, grow the strength and find the next part of the journey.