Without a doubt, interviewing Michael Czysz, and revealing his condition to the world, has been the most meaningful story I’ve written. I first met him several years ago as he was an instructor at a riding school I had attended. We kept in touch through emails or text messages from time to time, but when I heard news of his cancer diagnosis I was completely gutted. I’ll never understand why he allowed me, of all people, to be the one to tell his final story, but I’ll forever be appreciative of the opportunity.

You can read the story above if you haven’t already. It never was, nor was it supposed to be about me, but for just this once, I’ll share some thoughts of mine from my time with him. Simply being in his presence was difficult for me. Seeing him so thin, so frail, so alone, was gut wrenching. He was truly happy to have me at his house simply so he could have someone to talk to and tell stories.

Throughout the interview process I wondered all along if he was being honest with me or simply boasting about his accomplishments. As cruel as it sounds, I figured if I could somehow get him to shed a tear, then I’d know he was coming from a place of honesty. As any parent can relate to, once he started talking about his children, he couldn’t contain his emotions any longer. That’s when I knew he was being real with me. We covered a lot of ground during my stay, and there is plenty I kept out of the story. The hardest part for me was writing the piece, knowing I was basically writing an obituary about someone who was creeping closer towards death. Worse yet, I wrote the piece on my own birthday, with the juxtaposition of celebrating life while mourning impending death all weighing on my mind.

Now that Michael Czysz is gone, I look back at this story and wonder what was going through his mind during those last days. Had any of his positions changed? Was he at peace? I don’t know. What I do know is that stories like these are what fuel me as a moto-journalist. As I’ve said before, it’s the people I find more interesting than the motorcycles, and being able to share this story with you will go down as my favorite memory from my time at MO. Thanks for coming along for the ride.