Sunday, August 12, 2012

The First Time I Walked

Imagine my fiance, 25 and very beautiful, quick, curious, and playful. She was engaged to her soulmate and they were to be married in June. Her life was pregnant with possibility.

Then her soulmate was in a tragic accident. At first it didn't seem likely he'd live, then it was assumed if he ever came out of his coma he'd likely be in a very low functioning state, needing constant care, living in a nursing home for the rest of his life. His own family was telling her they'd understand if she left and got on with her life, in fact they were telling her to move on with her life. But she said, "no, that won't be necessary, Mike will get better."

As I lay there in my hospital bed, I couldn't believe that my child hood sweetheart was actually with me and planning to mary me. I felt more than a debt, I felt gratitude and thankfulness of the deepest most intimate kind. If I loved her I would be a partner to her, not a burden. The best way I could show her this was to walk down the aisle with her in June. It was February and I was still unable to walk without assistance or supports.

I decided that if I loved her, then I could walk. I made my walking a metaphor for my love. With each step being a metaphor for telling her, "I love you." I couldn't tell her with words, my speech was so poor at that point.

The day came, they took me down to the rehab room and wheeled me in front of the parallel bars. I stared at them trying to overcome my fear of failure. My therapist told me, "Give it a try, its okay if you can't." She began to say we could try again tomorrow, but I cut her off."

"No it is not!" I mumbled, feeling quite pathetic. I reached for the bars and I tried gallantly to pull myself up. I didn't know it would seem so impossible, but I thought of my fiance, I felt my love, I winced and I strained and with shakey uncertain legs I stood. Everyone in the therapy room cheered. I paused, gathered my strength and set my intentions. I shifted my wait to my left leg, the one that felt heavy with water. I tried raising my right leg to bring it forward. I panicked and set it quickly back down. Sweat was on my forehead and my teeth were clenched tightly. I set my intentions. I tried again, I felt like a skyscraper leaning in the wind, I thought of a sailing ship foundering in a gale, I closed my eyes on the inhale and opened them as I exhaled and took a step.

"I love you." The inner monologue resonated from my heart. I had done it! I had taken my first step.

Now I was in a jam. I had one foot forward and felt very off balance. Now everybody was watching, no cheers, just stunned silence. I rocked back and forth from foot to foot, trying to find a stable platform. There was no avail. Fear gripped me, I clenched my teeth as my breath coarsed sharp and short between them. I leaned forward and dragged my left foot ahead.

"I...Love....You! I had done it, I had walked! I wanted to raise both my hands over my head but no sooner had I tried then I started to fall and I brought my hands down and grabbed the rails tightly. White knuckle grip. I leaned on one hand with my hip and bowed my head while I raised the other arm in the air. Victory! And I breathed.

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