The one-year anniversary of my fall from gracefulness occurred this past week. I’d been attending a dance class, sliding sideways across the floor when my feet stuck and the rest of me kept going. Unable to get my feet back under me I landed splat on my left shoulder, breaking it in three places and creating an injury that has taken nearly all of the past year to heal. But heal it has, a fact that I don’t take for granted, especially since the doctor made no promises. He sent me to physical therapy, my first experience with that specialty. I’m grateful for the support and encouragement I received through the many months of challenging and frequently painful rehab.
Today I celebrate the fall and its subsequent lessons and learnings. First off I salute the friends and family members who got me through, especially those first few weeks when I couldn’t dress myself, tie my own shoes, cut my own food, or wring out my own wash cloth. It’s amazing how many actions you need both hands for. There was Amy who planted the flowers I’d purchased the day before my accident, and Pam who helped me find items in my wardrobe I could get into with my arm in a sling. Less than a week after the fall my husband who, besides helping me shower and put on my underwear, pushed my wheel chair through the airports to get us to our granddaughter’s high school graduation in Nebraska. Two weeks after the fall, my InterPlay colleagues enabled me to fulfill the strong need I have to keep my commitments whenever possible. With their help, I was able to perform and teach a scheduled workshop for a women’s retreat. As with these and many other challenges, one of my favorite Beatle songs expresses it best, “I got by with the help of my friends.”
As the summer wore on, since I couldn’t drive I got to practice the spiritual discipline of asking for help. I learned to rely on the kindness of strangers like the Uber driver who taught me how to use the system when I inadvertently signaled him a full day ahead of when I needed a ride. I came to appreciate how many shops and services I could access from my house by walking, including the physical therapy clinic two blocks away.
My fall, like most accidents, came unexpected and unannounced. In a split second, one’s life can be changed for a very long time, and in some ways, forever afterward. I had plans that could no longer happen. We postponed our European river cruise to another year when it could be fun, but our long awaited grandparent trip with our granddaughter had to be cancelled. Not likely that window of time in her life will reappear.
But because of these disappointments, this year’s family event to celebrate our grandson’s graduation from college was especially joyful. And now, every time I raise my arm up over my head to reach for a dish or to stretch, or to dance, I pause for a moment of gratitude for the mobility I took for granted until last May 17th.