They retired years ago, watched the last of their children leave the nest and then lost their husbands about the same time. They met in their local bike club and connected quickly, mainly out of their shared misery and their similarities. The tall one made fun of the short one’s roots. The short one told the tall one that she should bleach the mustache soon. They squared off, glaring and staring, and then laughed, slinging their arms around each other’s shoulders. They have been fast friends ever since. Like the other ladies in the club, they ride their motorcycles to rallies and group events, but they meet up with one another to ride by themselves as well. There is something about their connection that is special, even beyond that bond they have with their friends in the club.
One day while discussing what they wanted to do next, they noticed the gathering doom in the sky to the west. Neither one of them had ever done anything dangerous or crazy, although their families would tend to disagree, but it seemed to be what they needed to do. They fired up their bikes and headed down to the local grocery store, buying up water, small snacks and a handful of stuffed bears, and as soon as that storm passed they headed to the center of the devastation. There they handed out bottles of water and gave snacks to the work crews and gave small bears to those children who were staring wide eyed at what used to be their home. While the bears might seem like small comfort to the adults sifting through their hard work and time reduced to so much rock and debris, to the children they are a touchstone, a bridge back to a more normal time. When they are out of water and bears, the ladies get back on their bikes and ride off, just two ever shrinking figures in the darkness, angels without wings.
Once they get home, the women make cups of coffee and talk about what they had just seen. Let everyone else take the pictures at the scene; let the newscasters report the stories from the standpoint of destroyed buildings or lives lost. To the ladies, it was something they would never forget, that feeling of despair and the shadows that parted from the young one’s faces as they clutched the bears in their hands.
There was nothing to stop them, no one to keep them from doing what they planned. They went together and bought a teardrop trailer to pull behind their bikes. They bought bears and made blankets. They bought water and other snacks. They made little care packages, and whenever there was a storm in the area, they rode off, doing their small part to make things easier. They never allowed themselves to be photographed; they never would reveal their names when asked. They did not want the attention, and they did not want their own families to know what they were doing. They were only two ladies on their motorcycles, looking for a way to fit into a world that might have otherwise simply left them on the roadside a long time ago.