The sun will not set for our first several days of riding. It's hard to define them as days even, each moment blurring into one another with no sunset to demarcate a nighttime and no schedules to assert days' finish. We'll awake when our bodies deem desirable, and ride until our bodies feel done. Only internal guides will decide our paths, and I'm confident that ceaseless sunshine will permeate our moods and make us want to pedal longer than normal and laugh louder than usual.
It is these days that I most long for, these endless ones. They so starkly contrast the feeling of grief. Processing Patrick's death at first felt like winters in the Arctic Circle, where the sun never rises. There's no daylight to remind you of hope, there's no sunrise to mark the days or passage of time. I'm graduating college in a mere two weeks, but when people ask me about what senior year has been like, my responses are vague and short. Days have been dark, they blend together.
But in the past few months as the trip started to come into fruition — the route planned, the bikes purchased, the amazing Megan and Greg having joined — light started to peek over the horizon. I started to focus on the joy of Patrick's life, and not merely the tragedy of his death. This ride embodies a remnant of the joy he brought, all of the intensity, silliness and adventure.
While I'm not so naive as to expect that this midnight sun will return me to the joy I once had, it will remind me that one day I might. I might again feel a comparable joy I felt when racing down the Hudson Greenway with Patrick or when singing and beatboxing on the Key Biscayne beach with Patrick. It will take years to truly appreciate his life in a way that will be disparate from sadness.
Until that day though, I will savor the unsetting sun as a reminder that maybe that day will come. That after long spans of darkness can come long spans of light. And that somewhere out there, Patrick won't be watching the sunrise with me as he does every day — he'll be watching it stay risen.