By Becky Furuta
“You never know when the last moments will be, so you have to be present for them all.”
Callie Halls, best host housing ever, St. Louis, MO
Driving to the Halls’ house was like driving to the home I never had. It was a beautiful, lemon-yellow house on a tree-lined street with white picket fences. Every year, as our team van would pull up to the driveway, Callie would step off the porch and greet us with a warm embrace. Trailing behind her would be Daisy, the family dog, tail wagging and waiting for a pat on the head, and then Callie’s two smiling daughters – the little sisters who the boys on the team gently teased and who made us all laugh with their lively humor.
Everything about those moments felt like family dinner.
The Halls would always celebrate our arrival with an amazing meal. We would talk and laugh and drink just a little too much, and pick up where we had left off a year earlier. And it was during one of those evenings as Callie and I were exchanging stories about our own growing children, that she would say, “There is always a last. There’s the last time you rocked them to sleep, the last time you carried them on your hip, the last time they held your hand to cross the street. The thing is, you never know when the last moments will be, so you have to be present for them all. You can live the last and not even notice until it’s too late.”
I considered all the lasts behind me and the ones up ahead. We’re always closing chapters, but it’s rare that we understand the scope of those endings at the time they arrive. Being present and drinking up the moments as they are delivered is really the only way to avoid the regret of letting go before we’re ready. Of course, it’s easy to revel in those times we enjoy…. but much harder to find the love and the joy in the moments that are painful and challenging. Some day, we’ll miss those moments, too.
Life unfolds in the present, for better or for worse. All we have to do is show up.
Becky Furuta is an elite cyclist who has spent the last seven years racing for some of the most recognizable teams in cycling. She has worked to advocate for greater equality in the sport of women’s cycling, and volunteers for programs aimed at teaching kids with disabilities to ride bicycles. In her spare time, she works as a sports vision specialist at an optometric practice in Golden. She makes her home in Longmont with her husband, two children and her hound.
“SPOKE” Series background:
My life could be as easily measured in the passing of minutes as in the strokes of pedals. Much of my 39 years on the planet has been spent riding, from the moment my dad bought me my first black and white BMX bicycle to the afternoon when a large cardboard box arrived on my front doorstep containing a sponsor provided road bike that looked more like art than a machine. For more than seven years spread over a decade, I have raced a bike all over the world. I was given the kind of opportunities most bike racers can only dream of having, and I knew it could all be gone in an instant.
Elite cycling can be exhausting and relentless, physically and psychologically stressful and entirely unforgiving. It can also be absolute magic. I made it work because, for the most part, I was able to remain present in the moment. I never looked too far ahead or worried about what would come next because, just like riding itself, there were way too many variables. Instead, I drank up every thirsty moment and was grateful for the chance to just be a part of the show.
Cycling has a spectacular way of creating human connections, breaking down barriers and cultural differences, and creating unity. For all the solitary hours I spend inside the space of my thoughts, training and traveling by myself, I am rarely alone. And for the last five years of sponsorship, I have kept safe in the pocket of my pants the best of the people I have met and the lessons I have learned. I wish, in retrospect, that I were the kind of person who could keep a journal, but I rarely had time to write much of anything on the road. Instead, I kept the bits and pieces of wisdom and advice in a series of memos and texts stored in my phone. As you can imagine, there are hundreds of these little snippets, cast over Girona and Copenhagen and Lisbon, Dickinson, North Dakota and Tulsa, Oklahoma. They have become the patchwork of my experiences that will last long after I cross the final finish line of my racing career.