Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Go!

Mile Marker 0:

Where else to start but at the Art Museum? For 15 years, it’s been my starting line for skates and bike rides -- the place where everybody knows my name.

Today, it just felt right. My companions did, too. I started with my brother Mark and his trusty dog Jack. We were soon joined by my friend and skate-buddy, Jeff.

Mile Marker 1:

Kelly Drive. On my skates and bike, I had already logged more miles here than I could count. It was here that I learned to skate in a “draft line,” zigzagging between the runners and then pumping hard to climb the hill at the Falls Bridge. It was here that I rambled through the Water Works with a group of third grade camp kids. Here, I walked the AIDS Walk year after year. But today on Kelly Drive, I moved at a new pace, minding each of my steps, aware that my old life was blending with my new.

During the long winter months, my friend Jeff had stopped at the hospital often – bringing seasonal cheer in the form of gingerbread lattes! And Mark was by my side every day. In the early mornings, he

showed up with Dunkin Donuts tea and hash browns. (Just add bacon and you've got the breakfast of champions!) By night, he dozed on my window ledge on a pile of unused pillows. The hospital security guards and nurses knew him by name. “Rebecca, your brother’s coming up!” they echoed through the darkened hallways at midnight.
And then there was Jack, poor pup, who had spent those long winter days closed up in Mark’s apartment.

Mile Marker 2:

But today we were all together, WALKING IN THE SUNSHINE, among the runners and skaters and bikers. In 90 minutes, we walked 2 miles -- farther than I ever thought I'd go today!

I remembered a time 8 months ago when I could have skated or biked almost two loops (16 miles) in that amount of time. But our long, leisurely stroll along the river today felt good and hopeful. Even if I did need a nap afterward!

What I realized is that every journey starts in the middle, including this one. There's a point where the old meets the new. The baggage in the trunk of your car doesn't keep you from driving forward. It just reminds you of who you are.

As skaters and bikers whizzed by me today, I saw that Mark, Jeff, and Jack were moving at my speed. We weren't breaking any records, but we were moving forward – joining my old life with my new.

Thanks to Mark and Jeff (and Jack too!) for making this a first walk to remember!

And for giving me something else to reach for...maybe in 2013 :)
Final mileage today: 2.59

7 comments:

  1. Very proud of your progress! Thanks for having Jack and I along. Looking forward to many more walks...

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  2. Go, Ricki!!! We're looking forward to the day you do some of your miles in Vermont!

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  3. Yay, Ricki! Amazing job, and great pictures! And yay to Mark, too, who did such a good job keeping me updated from afar last fall/winter. Although there wasn't a lot I could do from Chicago, I was so grateful to get news on a regular basis.

    Alright, I'm going to get out and walk 2.59 miles today. Gotta keep up with you!

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  4. You go girl! I hope you save some miles for us to walk together. I am by your side in spirt for the whole 1000.

    You are amazing! Love you.

    Marla

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  5. Hi Ricki! We met in person at Marla's 40th birthday party. Marla has kept me updated with everthing including this incredible walking journey! You go girl! Your inspiration is truly heart warming! I plan to follow along every step of the way!

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  6. Beautiful writing about such beautiful people - you always make me feel like I am right there with you :)

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  7. Hey Rebecca,
    Can't wait to walk with you and afterwards straight to a Starbucks for our special coffee drink!! You are beyond inspirational!!!

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