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, November 26, 2014

Harvest Time

Mile Marker  2266:

The first time I stepped outside in my prosthesis, I nearly blew over.
That’s right.  I waved goodbye to Prosthetist Tim, pushed open the glass door of his office, and a gusty breeze did the rest.
“Watch out for the wind!” Tim called after me.  Famous last words.
That was 3½ years ago.  Spring 2011.  Back then, I was like a brand-new sapling.  Easily shaken.  Unsteady on my feet.  Fragile in body and mind.

On the hardest days, I wondered whether my roots would ever survive in this new soil.
Even the wind could blow me away.

At Mile Marker 2266, I'm hit by another gust.

This time it's an uneventful day.  I'm just crossing Sansom Street to check on my Healing Garden at Jefferson Hospital.   That's when I step off the curb into a wind tunnel, the kind that whips down narrow streets and between tall buildings.  (If you live in the city, you know what I mean!) 
Leaves scatter.  Plastic bags fly.  My jacket flips open.  Hair stings my eyes.  For a split second, it takes every ounce of energy to stay on my feet.
Then I recover.  Push the hair out of my face.   Regain my rhythm.  Keep walking.
I'm not a sapling anymore.  
After 4 years, I can finally say my roots are firmly planted.  This season, my branches reach out in all directions.  I’m not just growing.  I’m ready to HARVEST!
I push through Jefferson’s revolving door and ride the elevator to the 8th floor.  My steps are swift and confident.   Each visit here is like a pencil mark on the kitchen wall.  This is the place where my growth feels most real.
The Surgical Waiting Area is a large windowed room filled with families waiting for their loved ones to come out of surgery.  Chairs are clustered in groups.  There are wooden cubbies for coats and bags, board games and restaurant menus.  In the center sits my Healing Garden.

“Rebecca…” Crystal calls from the reception desk.  “Somebody’s been waiting for you!”
She gestures to a woman with long braided hair sitting in a chair by the door.   I go over and introduce myself.
The woman tells me how much she likes the garden, especially the air plants suspended in their glass globes.  She tells me how her own home is filled with plants in every window and every room.  Then she pulls out her phone and shows me photos.  Lots of them.
People often talk to me when I’m taking care of the garden.  Usually they share a piece of their own story:  who they’re waiting for, how long it’s been, or what they hope the outcome will be.  But this woman doesn’t reveal any of that.  She just tells me about her plants and how much she enjoys them.

After a while, she asks if she can take home a plant from my garden.  “I’ll take good care of it,” she promises.  “I’ll name it Jefferson.”
A plant named Jefferson!  I love it!
I want to give her one, but I'm stuck.  The plants are in ceramic pots woven among leaves and pumpkins.  Taking one out would leave an empty spot.

And there aren’t that many.  It’s just a small garden really, barely 5 feet in length.  Truly I don't have a plant to spare.

Gently, I tell her so.  Then I go over to fill my watering can.
After I've tended to all the plants, I notice a little pot on the other side of the reception desk.  When I gave the garden its fall makeover last month, I intended to give that plant to a patient’s family.  But somehow it got left behind.

Carefully, I drizzle the remaining water into it.  Then I carry it over to the woman by the door.
"He looks like a Jefferson, don’t you think?” I say.
It's a simple houseplant with round green and white leaves.  The pot is plastic and nothing fancy.  But she's ecstatic!

“Did you know this is related to a rubber tree plant?”  she asks me.
I did not.
I pack my watering can into a file drawer behind the desk.  As I head out, I exchange smiles with Crystal.  We can both feel happiness radiating from the woman.  Jefferson is going to a good home.

I have always loved Thanksgiving.  Four years ago, it passed me by while I was in the hospital, and it seems I'm still making up for lost time.

Last year's crew!
With every step, I'm rediscovering what makes me happy, thankful, and satisfied.

I go home that day and decorate more flower pots.  Fill them with soil and clippings and greens.  So when I return to Jefferson later in the week, I've got a boxful of plants to deliver to patients on the unit where I spent Thanksgiving 4 years ago.

With a whole lot of nurturing, my roots took hold.  And for that, I'll always be THANKFUL.  Now it's harvest time!  What surplus do I have?  What capacities to share?

I'm ready to GIVE.

And it turns out, I've got quite a bounty.
Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

1 comment:

  1. Happy Thanksgiving! The garden still looks great!