It is amazing to me how one photo can just bring me to my knees. How four and a half years later, even with this life I have re-built, one picture can bring back the loss. It felt like I was looking at someone who died, was gone from my life for so long I had forgotten about her. And then there she is, smiling back at me from all these colourful pages. She was amazing, beautiful, strong, healthy and did anything she wanted, never questioning whether she could or not. She Just Did It.
I know that everyone grieves someone they have lost. It just seems strange to me that I am still, after all this time, made to feel so very sad about not being that person any more, just by looking at one picture. So sad that nothing I have now, or have done in the past four years can leapfrog me over those sad feeling and bring me back to the reality that I am good. Because I know I am, that what I am doing is making a difference for myself physically, for my health, for my family and in my community. I know that. But.
I’m not quite sure how to get past this feeling today, other than to bury myself in my work of writing about bathrooms (the next book), end-of-year tax preparation and of course Christmas. But I know, in my gut, that that photo is still there. And putting it away will have no effect because it has been etched into my mind again. That woman of 42.
Theo reassures me that I am that same woman, my legs are different, but the rest of me is still the same. In my mind I know that is true, but it doesn’t change how I feel in my heart. I suppose I will always feel that way, and tears may always come to my eyes when I see her, me, back then.
Everyone has a “back then” photo, I assume. But getting past those feelings is hard. I remind myself that I still go for what I want, speak my mind, I’m strong, and if I have a shower dry my hair and do some makeup, I look good. But every once-in-a-while those sad feelings of remembering what I used to do physically come to the surface; and that is what knocks the wind out of me. Trail running. Mountain biking. Skiing. Gardening. Whenever and wherever I wanted.
When I speak now in front of an audience, I introduce myself by saying that: “For the first 42 years of my life I had the privilege of the use of my legs.” Now I have to plan to use my body.
Our bodies and their abilities are finite. We need to stop taking it for granted.
I’m hoping this sun will last today – it always makes me feel better. Happy Winter Solstice – change is coming.