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, October 29, 2011

Hauntings

Mile Marker 143:

In bed this morning, I listened to the icy rain tap against the windows. 

My eyes were closed.  And in my head, I imagined I was walking down a long hallway.  Pacing myself as always.   Plodding along slowly, step by step.  Leaving the daylight behind.

I’ve been taught to stay away from dark places where I might lose my footing.   But I couldn't stop moving forward, even as the hallway dimmed and the wind picked up.  The floor and ceiling and walls seemed to come together.  And I could make out a small door up ahead. 

I felt like Alice in Wonderland, but not exactly.  She had a choice.

The door at the end of my hall would open by itself.  

Behind it, I knew, lurked NOVEMBER.


Anyone seen a cement guy?
This week I hurried from place to place, racking up miles without even noticing.  I focused on exercising at PT, helping out at school, carrying groceries from the car, unpacking from Chicago, and doing laundry in the basement.  Oh, and also tracking down that guy who’s supposed to be repairing my sidewalk!



Can I offer you some Eyeball Punch?
I clocked Mile Marker 143 last night volunteering at the rehab hospital Halloween party.  We showed horror movies, ate pizza, and gave out candy.  It was my first shift as a volunteer and a good way to celebrate the holiday this year.  It reminded me of how far I’ve come from that limbo world last winter.  Of all that time I spent getting ready to rejoin the land of the living.

It’s been a long year.

I’d like to forget that time is still passing.  That every minute tumbles us through the end of October.  Toward the first anniversary of my accident.

Last year's B.Y.O.P.
Fun times!
It’s an unusual feeling.  I'm used to looking FORWARD, especially at this time of year.  Halloween has always been MY holiday – carving pumpkins with friends, serving up pumpkin pasta, lighting the fire pit, and breathing in the fresh chill of fall.  But this week it reminds me of the decorations from last year’s party.  The ones that were left unkempt on November 9.  The cardboard pumpkins and orange candles that collected dust around my house until Mom and I finally tucked them into the basement last May.

I’m just not ready to open that box again.

This time of year marks the end of BEFORE.  And the beginning of all that came AFTER.

I guess I'm a little afraid of what's still to come.

I'm scared of the mystery that winter holds for me and my new body.  Shoveling, salting, stepping through snow.  And other obstacles I've yet to imagine.

And I fear that each day this season will remind me of another day LAST YEAR.

In the hospital on the wall across from my bed, there was a white board.  The nurses erased it each morning and neatly changed the date.  I can tell you the date of each of my surgeries.  I can tell you about Thanksgiving night -- when I nibbled on my strange-tasting turkey dinner before Mom, Dad, and Mark reluctantly headed to the Midtown Diner.  I can tell you about December first when the hospital staff hung jingle bells on everyone’s door.   And about how frightened I was on December 17, when my grandmother was so sick I thought I said my last goodbye to her on the phone from my hospital bed.  And later that same day, when Mark took my hand and held on tight in the ambulance to the rehab hospital.

But here we are now.  All of us.  (Yes, even my grandmother!)  So I need to make some NEW memories.  To cover up those old ones - respectfully and gently -- and move on.

I’m determined to FIND JOY this season, even in the midst of cold winds and gray skies and snowy sidewalks.  It’s hard though.  Sometimes even the most colorful ideas fade in the early evening light. 

Matt salts my messy sidewalk!
For now I'll smile at those little joys I've come across over the past few miles --  The airport wheelchair escort last weekend, who admitted to me that he’d never flown on a plane.   The five-year-old "Captain America" who was the life of the rehab Halloween party.   And, of course, my friends who held up traffic today to help me cross the slippery street!

Mile 143 paves the way to darker times.   But it has to.  That’s when trick-or-treaters come out.

Maybe I've been watching too many horror movies.  

Still, I'll be surprised if the sun rises when we open that door to November.  But if -- or when -- it does, it’ll make things a little bit easier.

The calendar pages will keep on turning.  And before I know it, it’ll be spring.

Perhaps this season is just A BUMP IN THE ROAD.

Sound familiar?

4 comments:

  1. I want you to know I am still walking with you. I eagerly await every post and make sure the house is quiet so that I can focus and take in every word. Thank you for sharing. I remember visiting you in the hosptial last November and again in March and can't believe how far you've come. Next year, around this time, you will be writing this post at almost 1000 miles (maybe more). Look how far you have come already. I can't wait to see where you're going. Love you.

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  2. My Halloween treat...catching up on reading your journal! After falling way behind this past month and a half while planning for, having, and recovering from the wedding...I decided that tonight....after giving out candy...I would read it all in one big chunk (kind of like eating a whole bag of candy corn!). You have been busy! Your new leg seems awesome. Your skate video made me laugh and smile at the same time. Your wisdom, insights, humor, courage, and determination continue to inspire. Looking forward to our November date! Love you....

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  3. I hate these things...even though you think you've edited them...you don't see the errors until after they are posted! Anyway...your skate video made me cry and smile at the same time! Hope now you are laughing.....xxxooo

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  4. I have last years' byop picture hanging on my wall next to me in my office. you had emailed it to us last year after the party and a co-worker commented that it was the first time she had seen me smile for two weeks when i showed her the pics and she made me print it out and hang it up. friends help steer us in the right direction, they cheer us when necessary and point out what isn't always obvious. i know that facing November must be so hard for you; for us (your friends etc) it was holding our breaths for days hoping and praying for the best. the events of last year may have changed some things to say the least, but they have not changed how others feel about you, if anything, we are forever grateful that we have you still, regardless of those changes. that may be selfish, the thought of a broken rebecca is more tolerable than no rebecca. i know for sure we are all better to have you here with us. this year halloween be best left in the box, but we can all help you make new memories. Meatballs anyone?

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