Is Biking Manhattan On Your Bucket List?


When my friend Jane received her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer stage 4, she didn’t waste any time.

Jane had already lived in India, Mexico and Spain, had completed 2 ½ Master’s programs, had taught World Religions to teens at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY, had married her sweetheart and raised two incredible sons, had written books and worked with women inmates at Sing-Sing Prison. You can read more about her adventures here.

But Jane Stuart Baron Rechtman was young, and she wasn’t done yet. No sense wasting time being sad. Her bucket list still had items on it.

Last September, a year-and-a-half after her first chemo session, Jane called her niece Evalynn and me, “I’ve always wanted to bike the perimeter of Manhattan… Want to rent bikes at Battery Park and go with me?”

The three of us met on a gorgeous October day, biked up the West Side, stopped to pick up lunch at 125th Street Fairway, plopped on the grass to stretch our legs. When I took a tumble getting back on my bike, it was Jane who caught me. And as we weaved our way through all kinds of detours on the East Side (the UN was having a huge meeting), Jane out-biked me.

Jane took living — and dying — seriously, and with humor. Her husband said, “She had a whole file on dying…” Two weeks before she took her last breath, Jane insisted that I read Being Mortal by Atul Gawande so I would know how she wanted to go.

In his last Caring Bridge note, her older son Jon wrote:

“She went peacefully. She called us to her side, told us she loved us…
She let us know that she went with no fear, no regrets.”

What a way to go.
Thanks, Jane.