Greetings from Team Kessler,
The last few months seem like a lifetime ….The love of my life is gone and my world is a better place because he was a part of my life. He wrote the following note to me in 1988 after I returned home from a long trip. It was what he felt then and so poignant in what I feel now…
“the void in my life created by your absence is a constant reminder of just how deep the love that is ours, really means! Without you, life is empty beyond meaning to me and it will be that way forever.”
Love is not love until you give it away. I believe Michael gave his love to us….with boldness, obedience, and humility for our Lord and each of you.
Sharing with each other special memories of Michael certainly helps in the process of grieving. Two events in September gave me pause to reflect that “those memories kept by ourselves in silence and apart, are secret anniversaries of the heart, when the full tide of feeling overflows.” Longfellow
On Saturday, September 27, 2008, a group of 27 riders gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Michael Kessler. (1st four pictures) The ride was organized by Chuck Wood, a close friend and member of Mike’s weekly men’s fellowship group who also worked with Mike at Bicycle Village in Colorado Springs. Monica Kessler joined us for Team Kessler photos before and after the ride and was accompanied during the ride by our own renowned Coach Charlotte, who also worked with Mike at Bicycle Village. Monica and many of the other riders were decked out in the beautiful purple and gold Team Kessler cycling jerseys designed and commissioned in memory of Mike Kessler by Jim Reitman, Mike Grainger, and Chris Card (manager of Bicycle Village, Colorado Springs). Chuck chose a route for the memorial ride that was one of Mike’s favorite routes during the several years that he led the weekly Saturday morning Bicycle Village training ride. We began just inside the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy at the site of the landmark “Diamond Lil” B-52 memorial, one of our most frequent starting points for the Saturday rides. We traveled south on Stadium Blvd and took the beautiful and scenic Pine Drive loop up and around the perimeter of the Academy to Academy Drive, behind the cadet area, and back down past the B-52 memorial and then exited the Academy grounds through the North Gate. We continued up Northgate Drive to the Gleneagle subdivision of northern Colorado Springs, then northeast through the beautiful Sun Hills estates in the vicinity of Fox Run park and finally reached Roller Coaster road. We traveled back south on Roller Coaster through the Black Forest area to Flying Horse Estates and then headed back to the Air Force Academy on Northgate Drive to the B-52, about 35 miles total. Following the ride, a group of about 16 to 18 riders congregated at “A Second Cup” restaurant on Gleneagle Drive and had a wonderful time of fellowship and remembrance of the great times that were inspired by our leader, Mike Kessler. The luncheon was sponsored by Bicycle Village and shared outdoors on the patio of the restaurant under a bright, sunny fall sky that perfectly matched the warm, bright dispositions of the folks of Team Kessler. I cannot overstate the sense of joy that we also shared—to have been united as lasting friends, all because of Mike Kessler’s consistent encouragement, optimism, and devotion to fostering cycling fellowship—“no rider left behind.” To be sure, Mike took cycling seriously and also recruited more than a few “hammerheads,” with the able assistance of Coach Charlotte!! But his deepest impact on us was as a dedicated mentor who always focused his undivided attention on those who needed it most. The legacy that Mike most yearned to leave with us is commemorated on the back side of the cycling jerseys that were purchased in his memory: In bright gold letters tinged with red against a royal purple background, the bold words “GOT LIFE?” Just before we bade each other farewell, Jim Reitman explained the significance of this invitation—taken from the book of First John, 5:11-12—just as Mike had instructed him to do before he departed to meet his Lord: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” by Jim Reitman, Mike Grainger, Chuck Wood.
On September 14, a group of us traveled to Mt. Yekel outside of Aspen Colorado to spread some of Michael’s ashes at his favorite spot on top of Mt. Yekel.Last four pictures) This is the spot he took a group of folks each year to ski in 8-9 miles and stay in a hut (Margy’s) for a few days. His buddies who were a part of these trips put together this trip that identified,and supported each of us in our grief collectively. Organized by Roger Bruhn, Eric Steiner and Steve Johnson; we met in Glenwood Springs, CO. where we spent the night, ate dinner, laughed and assisted each of us in our own special hurt for the loss of Michael. For me, it provided some closure that I didn’t know I needed. The last four pictures give you a glimpse of the beauty and magnificence of the Colorado mountains which he dearly loved.
As we enter into the holiday’s I am reminded that all days are difficult when you are grieving, but some days are harder than others. As Hospice says; “the special pain you feel on holidays or other significant days is an intensification and deepening of your everyday pain.” Experiencing the pain of these days is part of my grief work in validating the memories of yesterday and in building a new reality for today. I pray peace and joy for you in fondly remembering Michael and the love he gave away!