As we get closer to moving to Mattawa, I had a chance to reflect on the last 10 years of cycling advocacy in Brampton, courtesy of Dayle Laing at BikeBrampton.
On Wednesday, January 25, I joined my last BikeBrampton Zoom meeting. I said my goodbyes to colleagues and friends that I’ve spent many hours within the trenches of City Hall, trying to make the city experience a little better outside the automobile. Many of them were supportive when Toby was diagnosed with cancer. I’m going to miss them dearly.
I’ll try to make it back to Brampton when I’m able. But it could be a while before the twins are big enough to hold themselves upright and can sit in a bicycle trailer or cargo bike.
“Different Spokes” is the results of years of work, some of which I was a part of early on in it’s conception. It’s where I was hoping to take The Bikeport before life pulled me in a different direction.
The bicycles in this photo represent the end of an era for my family. The cruiser-style bicycle was my wife’s, before we committed to living car-free in Brampton for what ended up being 10 years. It was later passed on to my daughter. The orange mountain bike was Toby’s, and his older brother before him. Had Toby not become ill with cancer, he would probably be at the age now where we would consider sizing him up to another bicycle. A coming of age moment.
Instead, it’s the end of an era.
This photo carries a lot of weight with me: Joy and sorrow at the same time. A composition that reflects the bizarro state of my life.
I’m beyond thrilled that BikeBrampton and Punjabi Health Community Services in Brampton were able to make this happen. This is so awesome and I’m so sorry I can’t be a stronger participant in it. The people that made this happen are amazing. I’ve no doubt that Different Spokes is going to offer an amazing space for people using bicycles in Brampton.
It’s also a bittersweet moment to donate these bicycles. I still remember my last ride with #TheLegendaryToby, before his liver failed. We rode to A&W for burgers together. It’s an experience I’ve become used to in grief where I don’t want to separate from the things that belong to Toby, knowing full well that as we prepare to move, there isn’t space or purpose for keeping it. It’s better that it “live on” in another child’s possession.
For the last few years, I’ve held the notion that if you don’t agree to set any New Years Resolution, you’ll never be disappointed with yourself.
But if I’m totally honest, I kind of am disappointed with myself.
Not that I could have done anything differently in 2021. I’m still adjusting as best as I can from the loss of my son Toby. But I’ve also noticed that as I protect myself from feeling overwhelmed from the PTSD associated with this loss, I’ve also separated myself from people and causes I care about.
As I feel and see winter melting away, welcoming a new Spring, the resolution I’ve made for myself is to try to participate again in things that bring me joy, and to try to allow joy into my life again — with the guilt and grief that often comes with it.
I already know it’s not going to be easy. It’s also not always easy to say “no” to the things that aren’t particularly joyful. But there are a few things that stand out that I’d like to try focussing more on:
- Exploring Web development and design thinking.
- Engaging with my local cycling advocacy in Brampton again (BikeBrampton). They’re good people.
- Developing non-partisan models and policy ideas that empower communities. (I’m trying to be very particular with this one, as advocacy can easily eat up a lot of personal time and isn’t always a joyful task).
- Enjoying the journey of exploring interesting ideas — just like Toby used to do.