Motorcycle riders are a group of people that seem to have more friends suffer tragedy than just about any other group of friends. I am reminded this month of May, that it is Motorcycle Awareness Month. I decided this issue that I wanted to tell the riding community about my friend Jacqueline “Jaxx” Tabcum. Jaxx is an inspiration to me and has touched so many lives over the past 5 years with how she deals with tragedy and comes out on the other side stronger and more resolved.
I met Jaxx at a Mile-High Sisters event on May 5, 2012. We clicked right away, and our friendship formed rapidly when we got involved with founding a ladies’ motorcycle club, 5280 Ladies. Not too long after that was established, we had a falling out with the president of the club and the club disbanded. She says that the only great thing she got from 5280 Ladies was meeting her sisters for life, Sweet Pea, Rio, Detour, and Flash.
The day that changed Jaxx’s life – January 27, 2013
When a family loses a loved one by a motorcycle accident, it is an unexpected death and a moment that stays with the spouse years after that tragic day. Jaxx says while many things are a blur, she recalls so much more than she would have ever thought. A small group of us decided to take a long way around to go to a FRASCO chili cook off charity event, and she was riding sweep. We stopped at Lookout Mountain and took several pictures and had some good laughs. It was clearly the beginning of a perfect day.
On the way down Lariat Loop Scenic Byway near Idledale, we were dealing with two cyclists in the road and were lagging back because the cyclists kept cutting us off. Her husband, Paul dropped back and waved Jaxx to go ahead of him and not too long after that, the cyclists were doubling up on the outside between them. Last thing Jaxx saw was them pulling beside Paul in a curve, and he leaned more toward the yellow center line which was wet from snowmelt and Paul went down. She saw him in her side mirror go down, so she immediately parked her bike and ran to him. She is sure that she saw him wave to her, so she figured he was OK. CPR kept his heart going, but when they stopped, his heart stopped. After the paramedics and fire department arrived on the scene and worked on Paul for almost an hour, they pronounced him dead at the scene.
As she looks back, she recalls being so angry at those cyclists, but now has come to understand that it is, what it was….a tragic accident. Her life changed drastically that day. Paul was her partner, her love and soulmate and in a blink of eye, Paul was gone. Jaxx had been a single mom for eleven years until she met him, but once their lives merged, It was almost impossible to know where Jaxx started and Paul ended, they were bound together and the road ahead would require Jaxx to function alone, something she hadn’t had to do for quite a while.
The road to recovery
During tragedy it is important to hold on to the things that bound you together. Besides family, motorcycle riding was their passion. Paul and Jaxx could be found most weekends riding with friends or attending charities that were important to them.
It was important to Jaxx to keep that tradition going and hold onto things that will always remind her of Paul. But the thought of ever riding the 2 bikes they rode that day was not meant to be.
In Paul’s memory, Jaxx bought a 2013 Road Glide with a custom paint job of their matching tattoos. On the Road Glide fairing, it started with her colors and then once over the last tank, it started changing to his green and blue colors. It’s was the perfect representation of our merged life and love, and now she would always have Paul with her when she rode.
Jaxx and Paul lived in Parker for five years. In May of 2014, a year and a half after Paul’s death, she decided she needed to get away, find somewhere remote, grieve, and find herself again. She is fortunate that she can pick up her consulting agency Tabcum Benefits Group and move wherever she pleases. She decided to move to the Western Slope. Jaxx lives in a house that was the original cherry farm in Fruita that Cherry Street is named after. She says, “I love it here and can’t imagine leaving it anytime soon.” She found it difficult to leave so many friends behind, however she learned that … once a biker is your friend, they ALWAYS remain friends.
Life wasn’t done with Jaxx
Last year Jaxx was losing her balance and falling quite often, so she went to find out what is going on with her. The doctors diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis (MS) and instructed her that she can no longer ride motorcycles. MS would affect her equilibrium, so she wouldn’t be able to balance the bike. She declares riding is her life, and it felt like losing a friend; she was devastated. Another loss in her life that was out of her control.
After multiple doctor visits and testing, the doctor realized she was misdiagnosed and found a brain tumor buried deep in the left hemisphere behind her optic nerve. This explains why she was slowly losing her right side of her body and falling. In July 2018, the doctor removed her tumor. After extensive physical occupational and speech therapy, she was given the okay to ride again! Yay!!
Jaxx recently traded her Road Glide for a Freewheeler. She wanted the security of a 3wheels for long road trips and is now looking forward to riding to Red Lodge for the Beartooth Rally in July, one year after her brain surgery. She is going with the Cool Biker Lunch and Ride group; they will be celebrating Jaxx and Sweet Pea’s birthdays as well as her one-year brain tumor free.
In closing one of things that Jaxx has taught me, is that no matter what happens to someone in their life….life must go on and you must learn to continue to breath in/out and that your loved ones would want you to carry on and continue the things that you shared.