Kathy Berger
Dear Cyclist

I have seen you ride through the neighborhood in your brick red sweatshirt. I am always startled. You are the same height and weight as my husband. So when I drive to the library or when I look up from deadheading the geraniums in the front yard and see you, with your blue helmet, sunglasses, black fingerless gloves, and that sweatshirt, I think it is him pedaling home. The two of us rode bikes through the neighborhood and on the bike trail to Seal Beach. My husband also rode his bike to work off and on for ten years. He had a couple of accidents on his bike. One was close to thirty years ago, when a woman opened her car door into him across from Rossmoor Park. He flew up and over her car door . . . and needed back surgery shortly after because of an injured disc. So it is good you wear that brick red sweatshirt. Be as visible as possible. On rainy days my husband wore a hooded windbreaker that was cadmium yellow. (My husband was an artist, and there are still tubes of acrylic paint by his easel. If he hadn’t been an artist, I would have said the jacket was school bus yellow.) My husband rode his bike to the Katella Deli Sunday mornings and came home with pink cardboard boxes bungeed to the back off his bike. He bought lox, and we made lox, eggs, and onions. He bought a poppyseed hamantasch for himself and chocolate chip Danish for our sons and me. Sometimes he bought pecan rolls, and we grilled them like the sticky buns we were served at the diner on College Avenue when we were at Penn State. We met there forty-eight years ago. So I am used to seeing him ride down our street and turn into our driveway. The sight of you in the brick red sweatshirt starts a rapid explosion: I am instantly happy. And then just as quickly I lose my breath. My brain screams. It isn’t him. It couldn’t be. The cancer sadness throbs through me, to the tips of my fingers. That time I saw you on Shakespeare Drive, I had to pull to the curb. Tears rolled. My whimpering turned fierce, spasmodic. I beat the steering wheel with my fists until I exhausted myself. My husband was a strong, healthy man. He played tennis three times a week. We went to yoga and Pilates three times a week. He cut back on red meat and bacon, and a case of beer from Costco lasted months. He didn’t smoke. What I’m saying is, you never know. Take care of yourself. Anyway, if you could be so kind as to stop wearing that brick red sweatshirt, I’d appreciate it. Please don’t wear a cadmium yellow jacket either. With appreciation, Your Neighbor