Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tearing, mending and turning

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

It's been a crash course in seasons this past year.  A turning, turning, turning, just like The Byrds sang.  And time, itself, can freeze as the world whizzes past, a figure bracing against the wind, yet somehow pressing forward.  

... a time to tear, and a time to sew.

I didn't hear the tear, but I felt it, like the kick of an invisible combat boot to the back of my leg, forcing me to the ground.  I had happily stolen away for one last boot camp class at my gym, four days before our wedding.  This wasn't a boot camp for bridal purposes, I genuinely loved the physical exertion.  We got to the final activity in the class, and three heavy impact steps in, I fell down, thinking my partner had accidentally kicked me following too close behind.

But I couldn't get up.  It hurt so bad, so much more than any kick I'd known.  In a daze, I hobbled on the shoulders of two others to a bench and propped my swelling leg up while we figured out what to do.  When I finally made it to urgent care, I heard a diagnosis I knew very little about, only that it wasn't good.  Torn achilles.  I didn't know what that meant until I saw my foot dangling limp below me, suddenly fragile and disconnected, and I heard the word "surgery" and began to weep in that hospital room.

Eight days later, I laid on an operating table for the first time in my life.  The surgeons cut my leg open and reattached my severed tendon to my ankle with a fiberoptic wire, then sewed me back together.

It's been a crash course in mending, too.  

It started off with a post-op cast, which I lugged around for ten days, and then traded in for cast that reminded me of an orange popsicle hugging my leg.  I wore this for four weeks, went to the doctor and came home with a walking boot I couldn't walk in.   Basically, a big robotic cast.  And I was still on crutches, for another four weeks.

... a time to break down, and a time to build up.

I returned to the doctor to find out I could just then begin to put weight - partial weight - on my foot, in this walking boot, still using my crutches.  This was the beginning of July, over two months after surgery.  I began with instructions to practice bearing twenty-five percent of my weight for a week, and then upped it to fifty percent weight-bearing for another two weeks.  At this point, I was still lugging my crutches around.  By the middle of August, I was finally walking around in the boot without the use of crutches.  And then came the day I slipped a running shoe on each foot and gingerly walked around the apartment, and this was a holy moment.  
This, nearly four months after injury.  I was limping a lot, but by the end of August, I finally returned to work for four hour shifts, and I came home each day feeling I'd been run over, my leg hot and swollen.

And all this time, I'm learning how to walk again.  How to flex my foot and move my toes and rock from heel to toe and stand with all my weight on my injured leg without toppling over.  

Over a year later, I'm still learning. The physical tear, just one of many in a year, teaching me how to mend in more ways than I bargained for. 

I walk for miles now, heading straight for the steepest hills and stairs I can find in the neighborhood.  The streets with the incline that forces me up on my toes to ascend, because without this, I can't walk up on my toes.  Up and down I go, and progress is slow, so much slower than I've ever known.  But I rub my hand along my calf and feel a tiny bulge of muscle growing there, where there was nothing. 

Each day I walk, it hits me, sometimes like a rattling in my bones that shakes my heart, shakes tears so close to the surface, peeking over the edge then pulling back.  

This weight of gratitude.  

One year ago, I was lying in bed with my leg propped up, taking pain pills and peering outside at the world.  Now, I inhale this air, those royal iris heads bent along the sidewalk, cry for joy at the blue heron by the lake and the bald eagle chased by crows, soak the sunshine in my skin down into my soul, taste the rain in the mild muggy air, savor this freedom I once lost - this gift of two working legs - and everything in me cries glory! even as I climb the hills with a hitch in my stride and hear the cracking in my knees and force my foot to rock from heel to toe instead of slapping the ground flat.  

The taste of this, all this, after having lost it.  It's almost more than I can bear.

...a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

We hit the dance floor last night, he and I, and it's a sacred time of remembering.  This place where we first met three years ago, this way we began to fall in love.  Our first language was not English or Spanish, but this - dance.

We haven't danced much in the last year, but somehow when the music plays, we fall into step together and it all comes rushing back.  His sixty-watt smile, the flecks of light in his eyes, the playful moves, the easy sway of his hips, the laughter, the heat between our skin.  I don't have to relearn this; my body remembers.  

And my whole being quivers with joy here, in this time to dance.  And the seasons, they dip in and out, and they keep on turning. 


  1. Oh, mercy. Friend, the tears are coming now. This is so beautiful, so sad and hopeful and the struggle and the triumph and the seasons. You tell with such honesty -- bitter and sweet, the defeated and struggler and victor all in that same body. I love you and am amazed at what you've been through this year. Praying for your continued healing and the joy of the dance! And I must say, you look incredible, by the way. :-)

  2. Sweetie, you make ME want to cry. Your words have such a way of making me feel loved. And that pic of me dancing was a year and a half ago, so not that recent, but thank you ;-) Sending so much love your way, friend.