Thank you to Elephant Journal for this inspiring verse.
Thank you to Elephant Journal for this inspiring verse.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
I stood outside with a purple dog leash wrapped around my left wrist. I patiently waited for the dog to finish feasting on the fresh crop of green grass that I was sure he was going to pee on. My mind wandered back to last spring and how I had missed out on getting the chance to watch the barren trees bud and begin to sprout leaves. It was also impossible for me to even see my favorite flower the lilac, bloom. I missed their radiant scent permeating the air around me. I missed walking barefoot, branch cutters in hand and cutting off as many branches as my arms could hold. I missed stealing them from other people’s yards and placing them in vases all over my kitchen and living room. Oh how I missed my favorite season, the one of rebirth.
While Eddie continued his inspection of the yard, I looked above my head at the branches and saw the darling buds. It wasnt May yet, but I was so thankful for the unseasonably warm weather we’d had and the early burgeoning of said buds. The green, brown, red and gray of them too. I reached up pulled the branch closer to my face and took in the scent of new and dirty life.
To my right and down the drive, there are lilac bushes. I won’t get to see them bloom again this summer, because of another ankle surgery that will leave me housebound. But at least I get to see the darling buds of May, only they are out in April. It seems that God is giving me back my favorite season only a little at a time. Maybe it’s His way of making sure I don’t take it for granted ever again.
For now I will love the scent of spring and the buds of new life. I can’t say that this is the beginning of life for me or if it is the end. All I can say is that it is spring and I will rejoice in it. Dear Reader, go outside, and smell the scent of spring. Revel, in the light and life of newness. Revel, in this thing we call life.
Curled up in bed on my left side, I opened one eye and viewed the Life Manifesto hanging on my bedroom wall. I struggled to discern the words in the dimness of the coming morning . ‘Life’ the largest word on the canvas, filled my vision as Eddie the Wonder Pup glued his body to mine. I reached behind me and gave his back a soft pat, his crooked tail began to beat against my crippled right ankle. I dreaded getting out of bed. Not because of chronic pain, because there’s always that. No, it was the chill of winter in my bedroom, that made me want to stay snuggled under two comforters with a little baby puppy by my side.
The promise of daylight was beginning to spread across the manifesto on my wall. I could now read the line ‘Life is Simple’, and I shivered. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the line I read or the chill in the room. In the last 16 months I’ve learned how complicated life can be. I ended a 24 year marriage, had a horrific car accident that’s left me disabled, and the job I’ve been doing for the last 14 years has been dissolved and moved to another department.
I shifted my weight on the mattress enough to wake my drowsy fur baby and he moved from my side to begin poking at me with his paws and kissed my ears and face. His eyes smiled as I stretched and lifted the covers from my body. He kept jumping on me and biting at the a few errant strands of hair that had fallen from my hair tie during the night. He knew what he was doing was bad, but he also knew his cuteness would let him get away with it. I slid my yoga pants and slippers on, then Eddie and I headed to the living room to grab his leash.
As I stood outside Eddie relieved himself while I continued to shiver. The wind cut through my rebuilt ankle, and I thought about all of the people that have told me how much worse my situation could be. Though I do agree with them, I alone know how much the last ten month have just plain old sucked. Each time I work with my PT or try to walk more than the length of sidewalk outside my apartment, I’m reminded that the minutes, days, weeks and months have sucked swamp water, wind, and a big old giant ass!
With this final angry thought, I unlocked the door to my apartment building. After entering my unit, I set about the tasks for getting ready for my day with my right foot dragging. I worked hard to shift my weight to the right side of my body while I stood in the shower, brushed my teeth, and did my hair. Though it was painful, I knew the more I stood on it, the stronger it would become. My surgeon and PT have both told me that I’ve healed and progressed more than they thought I would. Superwoman may be dead, but I have been bound and determined to work hard. I’ve fought through pain, depression, suicidal thoughts, and hopelessness, but I still haven’t ‘got’ this. And if one more person tells me that I do, I might lose my shit.
At work I checked the photo stream on my phone and grouped together all of the images of my accident, surgery and early recovery. I wondered, should I delete them or save them for posterity. The post surgery images made me feel sick because of all of the blood, swelling, discoloration and railroad track stitches. I decided to speak to a dear friend about the photos, and get his take on what I should do with them. His advice, look at them one last time and delete them. Let go of the last chapter of the experience and move on. I haven’t deleted them yet, but I swear I will.
There is this shyness to me now, and a realization that being a manic pixie girl doesn’t always pay off. Sometimes it’s good to let the grass grow beneath my feet, and feel the grounding force of a foundation where I once didn’t want one. For even in my slowness, there is a passion that burns within me. A smoldering ember where a wild fire once burned, and it emits heat all the same. I’ve often heard that the embers burn hotter because the fire is contained in the core. It doesn’t burn out easily like that of the brilliant orange flame that can die quickly, even though that flame dances with an unadulterated exuberance.
I’m not afraid of death, and I wasn’t before my accident and the death of Superwoman. After the car accident, I’m even less afraid. No, I didn’t have a near death experience, but I experienced extreme shock. I nearly drowned in the abyss of it, and I can tell you I welcomed the feeling. If it had been my time to die, I would have gone without a fight. I wouldn’t have railed against the dying of the light. There was such peace in that cocoon in the early hours of my accident, that many times during my recovery, I wanted to go back to it.
Even as I continue to heal and realize that the old me is dead, I often wish to return to the cocoon, never to emerge, because I hated the moth I’d become. The one that kept flying to the light and dying each time it was zapped and suffered a setback. I miss the butterfly I once was, and it pains me to know she won’t return. As I endure ongoing recovery, I know I’m going to emerge from my chrysalis. I won’t ever be the same, but I will be beautiful again. And I will dance, live, love and fly…again.
**This will be my last post about recovery and chronic pain. 2015 is already a better year. It’s time to stoke the embers, and write with passion again.**
Even flow, thoughts arrive like butterflies
Oh, he don’t know so he chases them away, yeah
Oh, someday, yeah, he’ll begin his life again
Life again, life again
Tom my new friend and taxi driver, dropped me off this morning at Domino’s Farms for my Pre-Op appointment. Once there, I checked in, completed forms. Next, I was poked and prodded. I sat in the lobby and waited for the physician’s assistant to explain the surgical process to me. In two weeks, hardware that held my ravaged then rebuilt ankle will be removed. Tendons will be unwrapped from freshly healed bone in hopes that it will alleviate some of my chronic pain. I am tough, but I am scared. I am scared, but I am strong. I pick up my phone and the heat from my fingertips bring it to life. As I begin to play a game I mutter in frustration, “I’m so fucking tired of this injury sucking the marrow out of my very existence.”
I’m an observational writer. Two and a half years ago I would have laughed if you’d said such a thing. Most of my young and adult life, with the help of ADHD, OCD, married life, parenting, and plain old rushing around, I couldn’t observe more than five things at once. Once I realized that my dream was to observe and write about it, I couldn’t stop. Life was a rush. I was constantly stimulated, and inspired. I say passionate, everyone else in my life said I was obsessed.
This morning, as the lives diminished in my game, I remembered who and what I was. Placing my phone in my purse, I began watching four little children. One boy and three girls ran wild up and down the hill outside in front of Lobby C. The girls, ranged in age from 8-11, and wore short skirts with little shirts. Their feet were clad in sandals and their long blonde hair whipped around their faces as they ran. The little boy, about 7 was clad in shorts, t-shirt and black flip flops. He ran up and down that hill, faster than his sisters did. He didn’t seem to care that he lost his shoes in the process.
The oldest girl walked away from her siblings to stand in the stone and ivy garden. The foliage and ceramic toadstools made her look a bit like Alice when she spoke to a hookah smoking caterpillar in Wonderland. Her young charges continued to run up that hill, around the tree at the top and back down. I’m sure if there wasn’t concrete at the bottom of that hill, they would have rolled down it. Staining their knees and elbows green, as their little brother lost his shoes again.
I sat in a comfy armchair inside, but I wanted to run with them. I wanted to walk on stick thin legs made tan by the summer sun. I wanted to be the young girl standing in the ivy garden that looked like Alice. I wouldn’t have even minded being the little boy that lost his shoes as I jumped to touch the arbor at the entrance of Lobby C.
I don’t wish to go back to that age, but I do wish I could let the wind whip my hair as I run. And to feel confident that when I run, there wouldn’t be pain. I want to suck the marrow out of life again. Maybe after this next surgery, I will.
‘You look so pretty’, I told Lo as she walked up the stairs.
‘You do too’, she replied. ‘Why are you wearing a dress?’
‘Because none of my shorts fit.’
‘They will again, ya dork.’
I gave her a tiny smile while I put the brakes on my chair and lifted it over the threshold of my apartment door. I have to admit, I feel pretty bad ass when I do that. Who knew I’d be able to lift a wheelchair while standing on one leg? I stood at the top of the stairs as Lo walked past me and took my chair down the stairs. I laughed as she banged the damn thing down every step. She laughed as I hopped on one leg down those same steps. I’m sure my neighbors hate all the noise I make. When I run into The Old Lady that lives beside me, she often gives me the stink eye for absolutely no reason. Bitch! I digress.
Lo waited for me at the bottom of the steps. I hopped and fell into the chair.
‘I’m so damn sick of this shit!’
‘Think about how I feel’, Lo exclaimed. ‘I have to carry that damn chair of yours everywhere.’
We laughed as I hopped yet again and maneuvered into the passenger seat of her car. As we traveled to Saline, we caught up on the events of the night before. She went to visit a mutual friend of ours and I hung out with Bette. I tried not to cry while she told me of her happiness. I sat next to her and smiled, but behind my sunglasses the tears flowed.
‘I often think it would be easier on everyone if I died in the accident.’
‘Nae, God saved you for a reason.’
‘What is that reason though?!’
I for reasons I can not fathom think it would have been easier if I’d died. My family and friends would have grieved, and I wouldn’t have felt any more pain or loneliness. I would have stopped incessantly crying, or the constant wishing for things that are never going to come to me.
‘Lo, I feel so broken.’
‘Honey, we are all broken, in our own way.’
‘At least you have the prospect of someone to love you.’
God saved you in that accident. He hasn’t shown you the reason you were saved, because you’re not open to Him.
Our conversation died when her phone rang. I sat with my hands crossed in my lap and tried to compose myself. Rolling down the window, I let the fresh air dry my tears. I inhaled the scent of summer and freedom. All of a sudden, I was slammed with the urge to tuck and roll out of Lo’s car and find a pool to jump into. Wheelchair and advisement from my surgeon be damned! How I’ve missed my rebel spirit.
Before grocery shopping we met T at Cancun for lunch. I was so glad I’d done my hair and makeup. I felt pretty, even though I was sitting in a chair, and had gained so much weight while I’ve been recuperating. T’s daughter joined us and Lo and I made sure to talk about inappropriate things while we we ate. Sex was often the topic. T admonished us more than once, which seemed to make Lo and I act even more lewd. T’s daughter didn’t seem to mind, though she did blush a time or two. The young woman was so fair complected, I bet one could see her red glow from a mile away. She had a gentle but guarded smile, and all I wanted to do was hug her.
At Wally World, Lo brought around scooter for me to shop with. I drove the thing like a pro. I didn’t have my brace on and was constantly hoping other shoppers didn’t think I was using it because I was too fat to walk. I have no idea why I gave a shit what perfect strangers thought of me driving around in a Walmart scooter, but I did. I made sure to smile at the people that stared at me. Often, I balanced on one foot to grab items from a high shelf. Lo may have to drive me, but I did my very best to be independent when shopping.
After checking out, Lo took me home. I waited while she took my groceries up to my apartment and placed them on the table. Her car radio blared because we needed to hear how the Tigers game would end. While Martinez struck the ball with his bat, I raised my face to the sun and breathed in my last bit of summer and freedom for the day. The Tigers won while she wheeled me to my door. She dragged my wheelchair up the stairs, and I went up the steps on my butt. I slid into my chair like Lieutenant Dan and lifted that damn chair over the threshold on one leg. My BFF and I hugged and said our goodbyes.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the last time I would be lifting my chair over the metal molding in my apartment doorway. It was the last time Lo Lo would have to drag my chair up and down the stairs. It was the last time I would have to take my wheelchair on a shopping excursion. It was the last time she’d have to push me around in my chair while I stubbornly tried to push it myself.
Two days till touch down…I hope I find out why God saved me on that snowy night in March…Maybe it’s something as simple smelling the aroma of summer and freedom…Maybe it’s for something greater…Maybe it’s to experience the joy of becoming a grandmother…Maybe, maybe, maybe…
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Yesterday, Amelia wrapped her fingers around the arch of my right foot and began to gently massage the tiny bones beneath its surface. She tugged and stretched the atrophied ligaments and tendons too. I could feel the bones cracking and every once in awhile we heard a popping sound. They surprised us both, but I told her not to worry, she was not causing me any pain. More and more tension was eased as she worked her way down to my heel. I closed my eyes and laced my fingers behind my head. Shifting in her seat, Amelia began to move my foot outward and down. She told me I had to reeducate the signals of my brain.
The signals in my brain have become numb, and I feel like a drone. I’ve numbed my brain and body with food, mundane television and an addiction to Facebook. I’d hoped to write a book while I was off on medical. It didn’t happen. Instead, I wallowed in ice cream and fast food delivery. I’ve gained weight while being sedentary. Food didn’t make feel any better. It didn’t fill my soul.
I think in abstract instead of full sentences. Thoughts and ideas start, then stop. They become dead ends and hide somewhere in the synapses of my brain. Romance. Love. Anger. Doubts. Pain in the ankle. Pain in the heart. Thoughts muddled. Scarred soul along with the ankle. Loneliness. Independence. Faith. Fear. Prayers.
I worried about being dependent on pain meds so I weaned myself from them as quickly as I could. Tylenol does the job when taken regularly. The bones have healed, and so have the incisions. The original trauma site continues to heal, from the inside out. I ingest supplements for hair, skin and nails in hopes that it will heal more quickly. I’m tired of being reminded of my stupidity, and the fact that my body and car were totaled. That my insurance was canceled. That I have no idea when and if I will be able to walk normally again. Whether or not I will be able to drive again. Or how the hell I’m going to buy a car or insurance anyway.
I worry about my weight and the fact that none of my clothes fit. Will my newly knitted bones be able to hold up my fatness. Will I be loved or held again. Will I have a partner in crime and in life. Will I have to fight to find love, while I fight to regain my body again. Or will only creepy old dudes find me attractive. Will I be able to point my toes normally.
Will all of this damn work be for naught. Will the Talus bone die. Will the ankle be fused and my recovery start all over again? Where are my high heels?
It’s raining right now and all I want to do is run out into it. I want to run away. I want to smell worms and springtime. I want to be myself again. A free spirit, effervescent, sparkly and unafraid of tomorrow. I want to bear weight and walk into the deluge outside my window. To feel it drench my skin and wash my soul clean. I want to live unencumbered by weight, a walker, or a limp.
Life is to be lived. Not by sitting on my couch and staring out the door wall, but by participating in it. The rainstorm has left puddles that I’d love to splash in. Ah, to feel the rain and grit cover my calves would be heaven.
Heaven, I tell you!
Yesterday I watched from my sliding glass window, five young men wearing the same color suit. Four of them wore ties folded in Windsor knots. One of them wore a slick bow tie. There was a sixth man. A photographer wearing khakis, took candid shots of them as they changed from gym to dress shoes, straightened each others ties and goofed off, like young men do. My guess was, they were the groom and attendants for a wedding. Or maybe they were an a cappella group. Who knows?
My apartment complex is set back in a wooded area, so the photographer took them behind the building to get more shots. They left their gym shoes and back packs resting on the hoods of their vehicles. Their doors were left wide open. When they returned, they grabbed all their crap and jammed themselves into their vehicles. They and the khaki panted photographer headed off to parts unknown. I was excited to observe them as they smile radiantly and wore the same color suits. Four of them with ties folded in Windsor knots. The other, maybe the groom, wearing a slick bow tie.
Often, my observational posts begin on my personal Facebook page. An idea hits me and I have to write it down. I’m sure it drives many of my friends crazy because my posts can get a little lengthy. Whatever, then take me out of your news feed! On second thought, please don’t, because I want you to read my observations. Looking at my window is about the only place I can draw inspiration right now. I’ve kinda been stuck in my apartment for 70 days.
My focus waned and I didn’t write much more till I arrived home from My Trivia last night. At 1:00 a.m I began writing a lengthy email to a friend, when the following quote popped into my Sparkly little head:
I wanted to know that he would be okay if I did. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of the people I loved.–John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
I wrote to my friend, I am a goddamn grenade.
I realized that in my married life and when I was raising my kids, I was a grenade. I was a malevolent force that ruined everything in my path. I was an F5 tornado or category 5 hurricane. And I was hell bent on self destructing. The self destruction included being a horrible drunk, a slow suicide with food and conversing with men that I had no business talking to.
I don’t want to be a grenade, anymore.
My ultimate goal is to try to find peace within my stormy, passionate and romantic heart. My ultimate goal is to not judge others and somehow rise above the transgressions of my past. I’ve sought forgiveness from God. I can’t go back and change anything. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not even looking for forgiveness from Roger Darling, Meggie or Adam Boy. All I can do is keep my mouth shut, my mind clear and try to be happy.
I wish for the three I’ve hurt the most to be happy, because I don’t want to be a goddamn grenade, anymore.
I talked to my mother today and I asked her when I should stop saying I’m sorry for all the havoc I wreaked? Her response was as soon as put down the bucket of guilt I continued to carry around. I may never be completely forgiven by my children or the man I shared 24 years of my life with, but I’m going to put down that bucket. I’m sure there will be times in my life that I will pick it up again. There will always be a part of me that knows that I fucked everything up.
I’m also acutely aware that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life because of what I’ve done. I have to be okay with that. I have to realize that there is no such thing as unconditional love, except for the love we give our children. On this journey to myself, I’ve discovered I am a child of God. I am a sinner, but even sinners need to forgive themselves.
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me…
He watches over Meggie and Adam.
And I know, He watches over Roger Darling.
Walking back to the village, sheep meandered around Krista’s legs. One bleated, and the others followed suit. She inhaled car exhaust and lanolin. And dust.
She was so tired of feeling dirty. Her teeth were always gritty. She spat on the ground, careful not to knock the water container from her head.
This was it. Krista was done. She’d told Joey they could stay in Africa for a year. It had been three. She wanted her mother. And some semblance of a normal life.
Back at the village, she found Joey and cried, “I’m going back to Nebraska, without you.”
100 words/Genre: Domestic Fiction
I saw this photo and was immediately reminded of the book, The Poisonwood Bible. The character I most identified with was the wife/mother. She stayed with a husband that had clearly gone off his rocker while they were doing mission work in Africa. I wondered how I would react to a partner that continued living in a place that wasn’t home. That wasn’t safe. Where I wouldn’t want to have a family in. I’d be so afraid of losing who I was while trying to help people and be faithful to a partner that kept changing his damn mind. The rebel in me would eventually say, I’m done. That’s exactly what Krista did, she went home.
Thank you Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers.
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