It’s still so hard to believe. Heather Boyum has passed from our lives. Her children (ages 4 and 7), her husband, her family, her students, those of us who ran, biked, and swam with her – it seems impossible that she won’t be that smiling, encouraging bit of light that she exuded wherever she went.
You can read about what happened here.
For any event, a tragic death as well as a crowning achievement, the effect of it ripples across society like waves on a lake. At the center of this tragedy are Heather’s family. The pain and sadness circles out to her co-workers and friends and students whose lives she has affected. Then the effect reaches out to the greater community, touching so many far and wide.
I spent yesterday with my MIM sisters. We talked, we remembered, we prayed, we held hands. We placed pink flowers at the accident site. We ate and we talked about running and we wondered what to do next. We talked about children, Heather’s children, our own children. Many of the MIMs children, those in that next wave of the ripple, asked their mothers not to bike any more.
I understand the fear of children, that their own mother may be lost in such a tragic way. And I understand our own inclination to lay our children’s fears to rest. And our own fears too.
But I don’t think not riding is the take-away lesson from this.
Heather was doing nothing wrong when she was riding. She was a good cyclist, safe, strong. She was riding during a light traffic time on a road with a clean 6-foot shoulder. She was visible and riding safely. She did not cause what happened to her.
Two drunk drivers, playing dangerous flirty high-speed games in a car and a motorcycle, killed her.
The take-away message should not be don’t ride.
The take-away message should be to don’t be an asshole who drinks and drives.
This case so clearly shows that the actions of the victim has nothing to do with the despicable actions of the perpetrators. The solution is not for those who are doing good things to stop doing those things. The solution is for those committing crimes to stop making victims.
When a tragedy happens we want to change our actions in the hope that this will not happen again. Shall we make the promise to no longer go to the movies because a gunman shot up a movie theatre in Aurora? Shall children no longer go to school because bullies are there? Shall we no longer build towers because planes destroy those who work there?
Our lives are diminished not just by the loss of loved ones but by making promises to stop doing those things that define us, that brings us pleasure, or health or knowledge, just because there are assholes in the world.
The take-away message is don’t be an asshole.
Heather said, “I’m amazed how fast time flies . . . it reminds me that every minute of life is a treasure.”
Heather loved to ride, and she was out there on the road on Sunday morning on her beloved new tri-bike with a dear friend showing us what the true take-away message is.
Live every minute.
Treasure the hell out of every minute despite the assholes.
It will be hard for any of us to get on the bike again. And some of us may never ride again, I don’t know. I do know that I will ride again. I will be scared and my family may be scared but if I can make any take-away in this tragedy, it is this: I reject being an asshole and I choose being a treasure-hunter of life.