In the blink of an eye. It all happens quicker than we can expect, quicker than we can anticipate, quicker than we can react. And all at once, it’s over leaving you struggling with only the consequences.
Yesterday I experienced my fifth, perhaps sixth, fall this year. When I was undergoing chemotherapy six years ago, I experienced severe chemo-induced neuropathy. I was told by my oncologist that in rare cases it never fully goes away. I was told it would get better, should get better, but that I may have to endure the adverse effects of my treatment the rest of my life.
Most days I’m good – actually, most days I’m great. But the fear remains, the foot and leg cramps remain, the possibility of my legs giving out on me at any random moment of the day remains. The fact that I experience this has brought forth a greater awareness of the risks I face. I often find my stride deliberate, almost planned, so that I can be sure not to fall and injure myself further. I stop near curbs, on stairs, inclines, declines, to make sure that I brace myself – just in case. Cuddling with the pavement is painful and the thought terrifies me each time I get up to walk.
I find though, no matter how much I prepare, no matter how premeditated each step, in the blink of an eye, I still find myself on the ground. I still find myself with severe sprains and strains, fractured bones, road rash and the shame I continue to carry regarding all the physical struggles I endure. I find bitterness in this. I find anger, I find disgust in my own body for its inability to heal, I find frustration that in moments as these I can do nothing for myself. I find impatience in the fact it took thirty minutes for me to get to my car so that I could take my kids to school this morning and even longer getting back inside and upstairs to my bed by myself. I feel incompetent in the fact that I can’t even carry a glass of water back to my bed, which I am bound to when I am home alone. I feel broken because I cannot do for myself and have to rely on others. I feel resentment that just twenty-two hours ago I was fine, I was perfect, I could walk.
But I also find gratitude.
I still my mind. I breathe. I ponder and contemplate. My very close friend and teacher once told me, “…It’s the knowing that even in the messiness that the messiness is actually perfect.” It’s in this fact, in this messiness, that I find my perfection. I find the realization that in the vulnerability of this situation I am able to still give thanks. I am able to find a deeper appreciation of who and what I am.
I have been in the medical field for many years and even volunteered at a nursing facility at the age of 11 until I was 18. I think on all those that I have cared for in their inability to care for themselves. I think on the times that I was able to be a light in the darkness for them. I think on the good things I’ve done for them: the laughter I’ve shared with them, the tears I’ve cried with them, the support I’ve been for them when they had nothing and no one else to depend on. Their situation was permanent, but this nuisance I am burdened with is only temporary. I give thanks for that.
I give thanks knowing that each day I go to work, I am blessed to be their hope. I am grateful that I can be their hero, I am blessed in knowing that I have the ability to be on someone’s side and fight for them, that I can give them strength in knowing that they will be taken care of, they have a better quality of life because I can provide that for them. I step into gratitude knowing that I am love.
Had this not happened, I would be oblivious to this. I lost sight of this long ago and found bitterness in the fact that others rely on me. I was taxed knowing that the burden of others is my responsibility. It is now, after enduring this, that I realize that I am their champion and I am blessed to be so. I find gratitude knowing that I am able to do for others when they cannot do for themselves. I am thankful that I can be their light – and I embrace it.
This is what I was meant to learn.