"When’s Veteran's Day?" I asked my family over and over.
Why was I so hung up on that particular day? At the time, there was a lot riding on it. On the Tuesday of the accident, I had a "To-Do" list a mile long. Our school was about to undergo state compliance monitoring. As the Special Ed Coordinator, I’d been spearheading the preparation effort for over a year. And that week, I still had one major task: to complete a video presentation about our program.
When I woke up on the 16th, that day had disappeared.
Maybe it's a step in adjusting to my New Normal, but this year's anniversary finds me minding those gaps. Not just that one missing week. I mean the REAL GAPS. The space that still exists between my life "before" and my life "after."
There's a walking path along it. And this November 9th, I decide to try it. If we make it to the other side, we will have walked 9,573 feet – 1.8 miles. If we double back, it'll be closer to 4 miles!
At 10 a.m., we decide it's a go.
At the foot of the bridge, we gather for a photo. The Ben Franklin is a fixture in our neighborhood, but most of us have never crossed it on foot. Today we're all ready for an adventure!
We start the uphill climb, rising above 4th Street, then 3rd, then 2nd...
If I squint to the south, I can just make out the yellow chairs on my balcony, blurred against the bricks.
And suddenly, we’re over water!
We walk the width of the Delaware River from 20 stories above. I stop to gaze upward at this dizzying, amazing structure!
|Jack likes this hike a lot better...|
and I agree!
The bridge is an incline, but the walk isn't overly strenuous. Not by last year's standards anyway -- when we hiked the slippery waterfalls of Rickett’s Glen!
I'm in a different place this year, physically and emotionally. This year's challenge isn't just survival. It's to BRIDGE the old and the new. The "before" and "after."
|To build a bridge, you've gotta have a strong foundation!|
|And anyway, my friends|
would never let me fall!
But it reminds me of what happens when I try to bridge my "before" and "after." I do stumble. Frequently. My leg gives out before the rest of me. There's a gap between what I want to do, and what I actually can. They're like two ends of a bridge that never quite touch.
I don't have to tell you that bridges are full of metaphors. And this particular bridge -- on this particular day -- is fuller than most.
|I learned that from my PTs!|
Over the last 4 years, I've watched a few of my own bridges close down, but I've watched many more go up. They're like highways zooming out in all directions. A web of relationships, a network of support and care. They connect me to people and places I never knew existed just 4 years ago.
|But I feel like I've known|
On this bridge the ends do meet. And they get along swimmingly!
The bridge vibrates as a train roars by on the tracks beneath us. Here's our version of the High-Speed Line...
(You can always count on Mark for special effects!)
By the time we reach Philadelphia, my prosthesis is dangling, my gait is terrible, and I've set a distance record in my new socket. But most importantly, we've crossed that bridge!
I can't really let it go without proper acknowledgement. Let's just say from my new vantage point, it's grown from a school holiday to a day to honor some of the bravest people I know.
Love & thanks to all who've helped me "rebuild" these last 4 years! Couldn't have made it this far without you!