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!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The End of the Summer

Mile Marker 50:

The summer ends
And we wonder where we are….

--So sings Dar Williams, one of my favorite musicians.

I know it’s only August, but the sky says autumn is near.  The clouds are high and cottony.  And when I take a deep breath, it feels like swallowing clean, pure water.  These are NOT the days of Philly summers. 

I marked Mile 50 this afternoon while shopping for a last minute addition to my mom’s birthday gift.  Her birthday's tomorrow, and I've been tracking it carefully on my calendar, afraid to let it out of my sight. 

You see, since my accident, the changing months and seasons have swirled around me like January snow. 

Something happens when you miss your traditions at Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas.  When New Year's Day doesn't bring those crazy Mummers partying down your street.   When Valentine’s Day slips by without kid-delivered Candygrams.  And when you're not one of those desperate teachers counting down to Spring Break!

Time gets away from you.

...And the same things looked different
It’s the end of the summer…. 

I saw the seasons change, but my familiar signposts were missing.

Three times, when I was discharged from the hospital, we were told, “Better leave now, before the blizzard hits.”  Truly, this happened THREE separate times!  Remember that wicked winter!?  


Once home, I peered out my parents' back window at the snowy icing on the tree branches.  But I didn't listen to the radio for snowdays.

In the spring I helped my brother Steve plant flowers.  (I'm using the term "helped" loosely here, but I did sit in a lawn chair and scoop soil!)   Still, Sunday mornings didn't include skating.

And then summer came.   There were PT sessions and prosthesis fittings.  A shuffling of clothes, crutches, and shower chairs.  Suddenly, I found myself back home in the city!

….It’s just that time of year
When we push ourselves ahead….

 Now, I'm pushing ahead into a new school year, but I'm not exactly sure how I got here.  And I'm even LESS certain of what lies ahead.

Except my desk, that is.  I glimpsed it last week, and I can tell you it's frozen at last November, plus some.  I’m hoping I can bring it up to speed with the help of a few knowledgeable colleagues, a trash can, and some Lysol wipes. 

The bigger job will be to figure out what else I’ve missed in the last 9 months.   There’s so much to catch up on, it’s scary.  But I guess uneasiness isn’t a reason to stay behind.

...And the colors are much brighter now
It’s like they really want to tell the truth
We give our testimony to the end of the summer….

THINK FALL, I tell myself.  New starts.  The leaves will turn to rust and green and treasure gold.  The wind’ll blow cool and fresh.  And we’ll have many more days like today. 

As a child of the 70's, I can't resist comparing this moment to starting a record in the middle of the album.  Just plopping down that needle mid-song, hearing that ear-piercing scratch, and then trying to sing along. 

I'll need to listen carefully to the tune, and maybe lip-sync at first, but I'll figure it out eventually.  After all, I DO know the words.

…It’s the end of the summer
You can spin the light to gold.

Happy Birthday Mom!  Here's wishing you the bluest sky.... 

Mileage so far:  50.49

(Thanks to Dar Williams who expresses so perfectly in song those ideas I couldn't possibly sing on my own.)


7 comments:

  1. Why am I NOT surprised that I opened your blog this morning and received my first Happy Birthday wish! My birthday always reminds me that the end of summer is near, and makes me wish I could hold onto the warmth and sunshine, unscripted hours, and long stretches of daylight for just another month or two. But Aunt Candy's birthday, only 10 days away, always reminds me of the excitement of new beginnings, the return to familiar routines, sounds and smells, tinged with the uneasiness of facing the unknowns of the school year ahead. You're right about Dar Williams... she writes the best songs. And you're right about yourself, as well. You know all the words. Today is about hearing a song you haven't heard in a long while, letting it play through to hear the familiar tune, and then singing along, like always. I'll be singing along, too... like always.

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  2. Rick, when you've reached your 1000 miles, you should think about publishing this. It's very inspirational.

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  3. I agree! You really should think about publishing - I look forward to reading every post and check it daily! Happy birthday to Mom Lev!

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  4. I agree! This is spectacular--It's so inspirational to me and I know it would be for even more people if you published it in some way.

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  5. Agreed! This site is on my list to check daily. I'm addicted. Whether you feel like publishing or not, hopefully you realize that you truly do inspire many! I just had a very rough morning with my 3 year old son (boo-hoo)... but your blog cheered me up in a jiffy!

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  6. Ricki, Even if not physically, Uncle Mike and I are spiritually joining you on this amazing journey...Vicki

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  7. I have total faith that you will be singing in perfect harmony in no time. I am so inspired by you and your blog.

    Debbie

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