Begrudgingly, she turned off the alarm. Waking anytime after daybreak seemed so natural compared to trying in the last few minutes of the night’s darkness but this was her life now. Since the divorce she could hardly think of a thing in her life that hadn’t changed so why should sleep be any different?

After a few moments of eye rubbing and stretching, she got dressed, filled her water bottle and headed over to her bike. Wheeling it out the door, a chilling blast slapped her face awake. While she was still on the front walk she threw her leg over and started pedaling. Might as well get the morning stiffness out now. At the end of the driveway she turned East as she did every ride. East let her watch the sun come up and light her new life. She’d start in the twilight between last night and today and feel the slow transition from the past to the future.

The road she headed down was straight and narrow as if it was her life planned out for her. Once in a while she saw other cyclists out this early heading down the same route. Sometimes they would be ignored as an intruder. Other times they would ride together amicably working a synchronized rhythm setting a cadence with another person, trading the lead and working together to get down the road to their distinct goals. Two riders, with different starting points and destinations meeting spontaneously and sharing a moment. But these moments never lasted the full ride.

Many years ago she had noticed a trail heading off the road. Today this different path beckoned to her as if it had been placed there just for her to notice. She had gone on the prescribed straight route long enough she thought and with a harsh skidding, she slid the bike off the shoulder of the road and dropped into the unplanned. The path quickly dropped down the bank giving her a burst of bumpy speed. There was a quick turn that hid an overgrown snarl of descending vines and thorns. It was too late as a vine caught her handlebar and held tighter than she could. She hit the ground with a thud on the path and felt the stinging pain of the thorns as well as the dull ache of the hip she landed on. After a fall, she knew it is best to take a moment and assess the damages. There were a few scratches from the briars. She knew they would hurt, heal and then leave faint scars that would fade over time. Lowering the waistband of her shorts, she didn’t see any visible damage but there was a pain from deep inside. This one she’d be feeling for a while. At least her bike wasn’t damaged and even though her water bottle had gone flying, it hadn’t spilled. She still had what she needed to finish her journey.

Remembering her father’s words “Fall down seven, get up eight” soon had her back gliding down the path. Even with the jostling of the trail, she felt a liberating glide as she breezed across a meadow. The sun had started to shine ahead of her and she realized that she hadn’t even noticed its arrival. She enjoyed that like the surprise visit of a welcomed friend. She would have another visitor after the ride. Her boy was coming home after a couple of days with his father. This was the reason she headed out so early. He was joy incarnate to her and she cherished every moment with him. She could relive her innocent days of wonder with him and not feel a care in the world. Maybe she was a little jealous of the blank slate he had ahead of him. She was an adult and her slate had plenty of writing on it, some epic tales and some uncorrected mistakes. It didn’t matter though, it was her story and she was content to be with her boy as he wrote his. She smiled out loud as she flowed with the trail toward the woods. As much as she enjoyed her “Mommy time” this time of day was hers alone to savor. She needed it as much as she needed the sip of water she gulped down as she headed into the trees.

She enjoyed riding among the trees. These huge pines filled her nose with their sweetness and lay a blanket of soft needles all around the path. Wondering why she never fell on the gentle bed to either side, she laughed to herself wondering if she’d just lay there and go back to sleep. The trees offered a quiet place sheltering her from the harsh angle of the morning light. It would be her sanctuary. Maybe one day she’d live a sheltered and peaceful life but it wasn’t that time now.

Darting out of the woods, a great hill rose above her. Down shifting, she started her ascent. Climbing hills wasn’t her specialty but she did it with the same tenacity that got her out of bed that morning. The angle of the hill was great enough to shade the light of the new day. Not only was it a hard climb but there was a noticeable cold as she struggled with the incline. About half way up, she nearly hopped off to walk the rest of the way. Her legs and lungs said to do just that but her head said to charge it. She pushed and pulled the pedals around until the peak was in sight. As her head bobbed up and down she could catch glimpses of the sun rising for what seemed like a second time this morning. As she progressed, she could feel it across her face, her torso and then finally enveloping it around her entirely.

At the top of the hill, she snapped her feet out of the pedals and came to a stop gratefully. She sat down on the frame of her bike and reached down to the bottle for a well deserved drink. The cool water tumbled down her throat and she could feel it in her belly. Upon the hill, she could feel the sun in all its glory. She looked ahead of her and could see the horizon. She could see her whole world from this vantage point. It was all there ahead of her. She decided not to look back at the hill that had nearly beaten her. She could see this detour took her back out to another road.

She decided to take the road home. Her challenge had been conquered and from here on out, the road was there for her. Sure it had it’s ups and downs but it was going to be a lot easier ahead.

Every morning she headed East towards the sun. She enjoyed seeing it start the new day with all it’s potential ahead. What it would bring she didn’t know but she didn’t care. It was her light and warmth as if God and put it there just for her.

On the ride home, she thought of spending the day with her boy. He’d be chatting about childish things, giggling and grumping, asking questions and offering surprising insights to his world. She pedaled with a solid pace, relishing these thoughts as the sunshine lay across her shoulders. Her sun. Her son.