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TR Press UK - 04-07-2018
On the bike I commemorate Bertram
Grief and loss run deep in Malene Hirth. But on Team Rynkeby Øresund she has found a community where she can give herself the time to commemorate her late son
Stage 4, Boekelo: Bertram’s happy face adorns the stem of his mother’s Team Rynkeby racer. This is how Malene Hirth would like to remember her son. As the happy boy he was.
It is now seven years since Bertram died of cancer in his mother’s arms. He was just five years old.
What started out as something that looked like a winter cold took her youngest son from her in only three months.
Malene Hirth sits in her yellow cycling wear in the lobby of the hotel in Boekelo, west of Enschede in the east of Holland. Here she spent the night along with teammates from Team Rynkeby Øresund before today’s 205 km-long fourth stage to Maastricht.
The grief and the loss run deep in Malene, but on the charity cycling team, which every year rides to Paris for the benefit of children with critical illnesses, she has found a community where she can give herself time to commemorate her son. At the same time, she can help to make a difference for the families who are currently in hospital with their children at the Rigshospitalet Children’s Cancer Unit – Section 5054 – the place where Bertram closed his eyes for the last time.
“There are a few of us on the team who have contact with the unit in one way or another. That’s why we put stickers on our bikes with #5054 to bring attention to the incredible work that they are doing there,” says Malene Hirth.
Completely fell apart
In order to make the stickers’ significance more apparent to the riders on Team Rynkeby Øresund and at the same time remind them what they are cycling for, the cycling team stopped by Rigshospitalet shortly before heading to Paris.
From the main entrance, they could look up at section 5054, and it caused the memories of the last time with Bertram to well up in Malene.
“It was hard. I completely fell apart. I was not counting on that,” she said.
“It was all the last memories that came up. It was the feeling of powerlessness. Hopelessness. And this boundless sorrow, which is so unspeakably huge. A gigantic hole and chaos. Uncertainty. All these things,” she says quietly, before her voice breaks.
“It was the last smell. The last glance. It was seeing his eyes just before he leaves us for the last time. All of that came washing over me. It’s impossible to control when it all comes at you like that,” she continues.
Brings the team closer to the cause
But while it’s hard for Malene to be reminded of her sorrow, it's also important for her to bring teammates closer to the matter.
“Most people can well imagine what it’s like to lose a child. And when we go to Section 5054 or gather at Bertram’s grave to celebrate his birthday, it brings the team closer to the cause and the participants get a strengthened feeling of being involved in making a difference. It becomes tremendously real for them,” says Malene Hirth and continues:
“When you’re together in a cause, it just creates another kind of drive and another group dynamic, which is really, really amazing. There is a unique kind of unity in Team Rynkeby. Meeting such different people from so many walks of life. People you would never meet normally. It gives me energy. And then I have the opportunity to get some Bertram-time. This is where I have the time and the surplus energy to think of him – I don’t get that in everyday life with a husband and three children,” she says.
This story has been translated into English by Semantix Translations Denmark A/S.