Still, several days later I hear her in my head.
I don't know her name and it saddens me to that I may not see her again.
She has made a home in my heart and I hope she never leaves.
Her words ring in my ear.
Instructions to re-focus me.
A calm and cheerful voice.
Concern for me to stay strong.
Encouragement when I was so weak.
Five days ago I cycled 100 miles with a 500 member team and it was the most challenging thing I've ever done.
It wasn't the distance that was exhausting, it was the speed at which our bodies were moving on top of the emotional exhaustion of knowing what we were doing represented.
Working so hard to move up and close gaps fatigued muscles to the point of wanting to give up. Not on the whole ride, but on the place at which we were riding. It was tough to stay strong for so long.
I count it a blessing that I was exhausted.
Struggling reminded me of real struggle faced by families who have missing children and who they fear they may never see again.
Real struggle is reaching for Hope when it seems so impossible to keep on and when the body just wants to give out.
There is real power in encouragement.
In physical feats and in emotional distress.
The community that I discovered in fellow riders and those standing along the road that day was overwhelming.
It's true that they never stop searching.
They never forget.
And they always choose Hope.
The only way to believe this is to see it in action.
The woman who gave me the hope to go on that day didn't have a name tag on her bike seat. She shouted my name at one of our brief stops in the ride and cheerfully exclaimed, "Amy! You did it!"
I remember her embrace being so strong. So meaning-filled.
I thanked her, but still I feel it wasn't enough.
I hope she knows the power of encouragement and the gift she gave me that day.
I hope the community members who sacrificed their day by following us along our journey know the gift they gave us that day.
I hope everyone knows the power in another cheer, another word of encouragement, another embrace.
There's great power in another.