'I see my son in each of them': DEBORAH MCMILLAN’S SOUL Story
July 18, 2016
fter losing her son to brain cancer, warrior DEBORAH MCMILLAN not only found a sanctuary in SoulCycle, but a place to honor her son through music...
I walked intoSoulCycle Manhattan Beach after reading an article about SoulCycle. A young man named Brad took me around and explained how everything worked. My first impression was that it seemed like too young a place for me. I had recently lost my son, Kevin, to brain cancer, and I barely wanted to wake up most mornings, let alone get on a bike with a room full of beautiful young people. But Brad encouraged me to try a class and I agreed.
A very energetic, life-affirming instructor named Alba was teaching that morning. I struggled through that first class. I could barely pedal out of the saddle to that loud, unfamiliar music of a new generation, but Alba encouraged me to keep going. I left determined to come back.
And come back I did. I liked the darkness because I could cry my heart out and no one could hear me or see me. I was as invisible as I wanted to be. Alba kept encouraging me to stay with it, and as time passed I shared my heartbreak with her. She was so kind. On the anniversary of Kevin's death, Alba played a favorite song that he and I would sing out loud as we drove to UCLA for treatments: "Try" by Pink. Whenever we got discouraging news from his doctors, we played it even louder and sang along, just the two of us in the car, "Get up and try, try, try..."
Alba dedicated the song to Kevin from the podium, and after class that day, several young women confided in me that they, too, were fighting cancer. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time.
I continue to cycle at my own pace. SoulCycle has become a sanctuary to me — a place where I can release my sadness in the dark and imagine my son beside me. There is no judgment in the darkness — there is just you and a bike and a quiet prayer for a little joy to seep in and lighten your heart enough to get through another day with kindness and grace.
I am beginning to feel like I can rejoin the human race. My son would want me to have joy in my life, and slowly, my heart heals. The friendly staff at MNBH welcomes me by name and covers me in a blanket of support and kindness. I see my son in each of them and for a few moments in that dark studio, I turn my head and it's as if Kevin is cycling beside me, encouraging me to push through.
I want to thank you for creating SoulCycle. It's not just another exercise studio, but a place of welcoming faces, encouragement and kindness. Most of all, it is a place to leave my tears on bike 45 in the back corner, where no one will hear me, and where some days I hear my son saying, "you can do it, Mom, you gotta try, try, try."