As I write this, I am sitting on the 1 train crying (what else is new?). These tears that are welling up in my eyes but not actually making their way down my face are tears of knowing I don’t actually have to cry so much today. One year ago today, I was hit by a car while biking home from work. My aunt emailed me yesterday – a belated Thanksgiving email – to tell me she was grateful I made it through. My ex-roommate’s ex-boyfriend Facebook messaged me to say one year later he was thinking of me and I seem happy. And I made it through today, teaching four third grade classes and forgetting and remembering and then commuting and remembering again that one time I didn’t make it home.
It’s been a year.
It hasn’t been a bad year. It definitely wasn’t a good year. It was a year that doesn’t subscribe to dualistic or simplistic adjectives in my mind. Today, I told a third grader to find a more descriptive word than “nice” when picking the characteristics for his own personal loving-kindness meditation. I think that when I think back to that swathe of time between the gurney and now, I’ll always be searching for the right words to sum it up.
To the reader still injured, this too shall pass. Making it out on the other side is a shape-shifting experience, a process of becoming, and that process gets recognized in moments – jumping up and down while teaching kids yoga; taking a particularly challenging yoga class; crossing the street with a regular, even, steady heartbeat.
Talk about growing up on OM! I’ve had more life experiences in this year than I’ve probably had in ten years of my life combined. I’ve learned a lot along the way. I remember writing a blog post just ten days out of surgery. I was in my bed and my leg was propped up on four pillows and I was a little high on pain medication but still, I wrote of the overwhelming gratitude I felt…and what I was learning. Well, folks, what I learned then doesn’t even make a dent into all I’ve learned since and all, I am sure, that I have left to learn.
Here is what I’ve learned between December Firsts (i.e. what a one-year-out me wants to say to late 2014 me and all those who are working through injuries):
- You will heal, even though, in the deepest darkest places inside, you don’t think you will.
- Family is everywhere. The school I did my AmeriCorps service at continues to make my heart swell with how much they cared for and about me last year.
- True friends are the ones who don’t leave the trauma ward when they put the bones back into your body. Instead, they tell you to call your parents before you go under. Even though that’s the last thing you want to do. Even though – and because – you’re terrified.
- True friends are the ones who don’t leave the hospital room when you’re getting a catheter put in. Even though you ask them to. Even though – and because – you’re terrified.
- True friends hold your hands while the anaesthesia seeps in.
- Those who’ve been injured before, been ill, will understand things others just can’t, and it’s important to keep them around…because they will bring you something – a book, poetry, yarn and needles, some homeopathic plants – for the pain. Oh, and the people who’ve been through something along that injury-illness spectrum? They will be the ones who will treat you as if you are not injured; they are the ones who will make you remember that you’re still you.
- Moms can fly across the country so fast that it’s like they’ve personally strapped on wings and skyrocketed through the air, never mind that they usually have to pop a few Xanax before takeoff.
- Doctors are amazing workers of magic. So are nurses. And physical therapists? They are resurrecturs of spirit.
- That surgical boot? It’s the fucking sexiest thing you’ve ever put on your leg. If you don’t believe that, shit’s just gonna be really hard to deal with for a little bit.
- The next time you think that a person is going to save you in some way, remember that at the end of the day, it was your helmet and a whole team of healers that did. If that isn’t a hushing of codependent thoughts, I don’t know what is.
- Oh honey, oh honey, oh honey, be gentle. The physical gentleness will happen organically; it’s sink or swim in the land of the injured, healing and casted. But the gentleness of the head and the heart? That won’t. So you’re going to have to make the extra effort for radical gentleness.
- Getting all sorts of help that included mind, body, spirit was the cocktail that saved my life.
- You need more nourishment, of every single sort. Your body is working in ways it never has before. It’s rebuilding itself.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither are bones.
- You can’t go from zero to hero overnight. Service to others during a time like this will blissfully get you out of your own head, but take it slow.
- Sisters rise up to the occasion.
- You are your own best advocate. No one else will know that you need a blanket underneath a scarred knee in yoga class. Your stepmom won’t know when an uphill walk is too challenging for you. This is the ultimate test of that thing you say or hear teachers say, “You know your body best.” Even when it changes so radically, even when it breaks, even when it betrays you – especially when it betrays you – that is truth incarnate.
- Celebrate the small milestones. Because if you don’t, no one will. Because if you don’t mark progress like a child who gets sharpie on the wall when their height is measured, growth is too minute, too important, to see.
- This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.