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!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Naughty or Ni(e)ce

Mile Marker 855:

You better watch out, you better not cry…

My niece Riley is going to see Santa today, and boy is she psyched!  She thinks he's gonna bring her that "Peppa Pig House" she wants for Christmas.  Right now, I mean.

When you’re 2 ½, there’s a fine line between asking and getting.  And don't even try to explain NAUGHTY or NICE.

Santa's up ahead, sitting in his big North Pole chair.  We scoop nephew Brennan -- still sleeping -- out of his stroller.  His wide eyes pop open as my sister tugs off his fleece jacket and hat.   We plop him down on the big man's lap, happily clueless.  

Poor Riley, on the other hand, is on to our trickery!  Who's this guy with the scratchy beard and why is there no Peppa Pig House in sight?!

When we escape the clutches of Santa, Riley takes comfort in the “farm” (a.k.a. live nativity scene) around the corner.  This girl's a Vermonter through and through! 

A self-portrait :)
We visit the carousel at Franklin Square.  I lift Riley onto her zebra and hold her steady as the jerky ride goes round and round.

Then, we hit the slide.  It seems my Genium is determined to get on the NICE list this year.

The next day, I host lunch for my oldest niece Brianna, my friend Suzanne, and her daughter Maddie.

“Did he say he was sorry?” Brianna asks.  Out of the blue, she's talking about the trash truck driver who hit me.

We've just baked brownies with Santa hats, so I’m not sure why the conversation has taken this turn – to the accident, to my robot leg.

I manage a nod.  "Mmm-hmm."

My mouth is full of pizza -- not so full that I can’t answer, but it's all I can squeeze out at the moment. How can I explain the complexities of blame or the logistics of what happened?  She's only 8 years old.

Luckily, kids' minds move like a flash.  Brianna and Maddie quickly lapse into silliness.  They get so giddy they almost tip their own scales from NICE toward NAUGHTY!

My friend Shelley’s nephew Casey has a very insightful take on the NAUGHTY vs. NICE idea.  Especially for a 4-year-old.  (Shelley let me borrow this dialogue from her Facebook post.   I swiped the photo, too!)

Grandma to Casey:  Are you on the naughty or nice list?

Casey Probably I’m on both.

Shelley points out the cool Yin-Yang workings of his mind.

Even so young, he knows it's best to have all his bases covered!

Mile Marker 856:

'Tis the season to be jolly.

I was planning to end this post with Casey's words.  It's comforting to believe we have control over our world, just by acting in a certain way.

But this month, we've all watched NAUGHTY and NICE battle it out.  People suffer.  School kids and teachers are full of life one day and gone the next.

Horrific things happen to NICE people.

When I arrive at PT this week, Deb sits me down on a mat.

She tells me Joanna has died.

NICE described Joanna perfectly.  When our PT sessions overlapped.  I’d arrive just as she was hugging Deb goodbye.

They must be really close!   I'd think each time I saw their embrace.

Until Joanna started hugging me, too.

In our spare moments between therapy, Joanna and I found things in common.  We both lived in South Philly and loved the Jersey shore.  She was a kindergarten teacher, too -- until illness took over.

When we talked about our uneven gaits or how hard it was to get out in the morning, Joanna rolled her eyes and smiled at me, like these were secrets we shared.

Over time, I saw Joanna less and less.  Deb kept me posted with stories.  She told me about Joanna's enormous shoe collection.  How she wanted to learn to walk in high heels again!

Joanna's illness took away many things.  But not her kindness and spirit.

I just can't stop thinking about NAUGHTY and NICE.  And the randomness of it all.

At home that evening, I fish out Joanna’s red wristband – the one she gave me last year, just before the holiday season began.

I slip it on next to my own Thousand Miles green one.  My mind wanders back to our talks on the mats and between the parallel bars.  I think about Joanna's 32 years of life.  About how our paths intersected only in small moments, but about the deep impact she left behind.

An hour or so later, I glance down at my wrist.  Joanna’s wristband has wrapped itself around mine.  Embracing it completely, just like one of her hugs.

Late in the night, I hear a new song on my Pandora station.  It so embodies the last few miles that I want to play it over and over again.

In the spirit of Joanna -- who expressed love every time I saw her -- I’m sharing it with you.

Consider it an extra serving of NICE this holiday season.  Because it really does matter.


1 comment:

  1. I love the sentiment of this post. Life doesn't seem fair lots of the time.