I’m sitting here, on the night before my first accident-iversary (it’s a word people use—I googled it to see if I made it up or not) and I’m attempting to write something eloquent about time passing and about the fact that it has been one year since my accident. Every time I think I have something decent, I read it back to find that it sounds artificial—it sounds like I’m trying to hide what I really want to say. So I imagine what I’m about to write isn’t going to be eloquent—it may not even be well written—but I can pretty much guarantee that it will be what I want to say.
One year ago today, on the morning of March 10, 2016, I could walk. I spent the day complaining about sick kids, a sick me and a power outage. In the late afternoon of that same day, I fell 10 feet down a hole and broke my back. I couldn’t walk. I spent the evening in an ambulance; a trauma room; an imaging room; another ambulance; another trauma room; another imaging room and then intensive care where my exhaustion finally caught up with me and I slept for a few hours before surgery. I don’t think I complained much at all. I was scared to complain–as though my life was hanging in the balance and I thought I could get off for good behaviour. Or maybe I just hoped that if I didn’t complain it would mean it wasn’t real.
Clearly it was real. 365 days later I still have a lot of WTF moments. I get so angry at the universe while I try to understand how this could happen to me when there are so many terrible people in this world. I struggle to find the answers because they aren’t there. Life happens and it happens to anyone. We wouldn’t need laws if life just ever so kindly dropped a piano on everyone who made this world a scary place to live in. Looking for peace anywhere besides inside yourself will get you nowhere.
I can’t say I have fully accepted my fate yet or that I am at peace—it has only been a year after all. But through my journey this year, I have clung to a certain quote that has allowed me the space to carry on as well as to grieve:
She was brave
all at once
I have been brave—I can allow myself that. I have experienced tragedy and attempted to live again. I make the decision every day to get out of bed and leave my house. The thoughts of bladder issues, bowel issues or curious stares could easily keep me home. I don’t have to talk to other parents at my boys’ schools or try and meet new people. But I have. Because I am brave.
I have been strong—I can allow myself that. I have come through more physical pain than I have ever endured before. I have re-learned so much including how to sit up, drive, roll over and dress myself. I have endured bladder and bowel accidents and somehow realized that they are not the end of the world—they are the worst!!—but they are not the end of the world. I have comforted my children and their worries about my injury without crumbling along side them. I have done all of this because I am strong.
I have been broken—I can allow myself that. My life was turned upside down in one swift moment. I am left to figure out how best to adapt and move forward. I am left to achieve everything I can and to mourn all that was lost including future plans that are no longer likely to make it in to my story. I have lost half of my body. It’s still there for everyone to see and it spasms sometimes as if it’s totally fair for limbs that cannot function to move themselves as they see appropriate. Even still, half my body is gone. I get frustrated, I question and I cry—because I am broken.
I am brave. I am strong. I am broken. All at once.
Early on in my recovery I was told to give it a year. It felt so far away but there was this hope of normalcy. I clung to that, but not necessarily in a positive way. I began to see it as a deadline. I got closer to that deadline and I felt like I was drowning and failing because I was never going to be the person I thought I would be one year later. It started to provoke panic.
Yes, I am proud of myself for overcoming many obstacles and attempting to live life as presently and positively as I can. Yes, I am grateful for my husband and his infinite patience and love—he has been with me every (theoretical) step of the way. Yes, I am thankful and proud of my family for accepting this as their journey and not just mine and for adapting their lives to help make mine easier. But that one-year deadline of normalcy was not happening. Because is now one year and life is not normal.
What I have realized is that the normalcy I thought I would get was far fetched. My life is different—it’s harder. It takes more time to do absolutely everything. I’ve discovered that a new normal is what I was after all along. That discovery has allowed me a new sense of peace over the last few days. I now know that what I was chasing was not possible. Not at one year—not ever. What I really want is acceptance of my new normal.
Since the beginning of all this, I have done my best to take it all one day at a time. Eventually those days added up and became a year. Today is day 365. But tomorrow will come and it will be day 366. It will be year two. However, the days will still come one at a time and I will use them to work on accepting my new normal. No deadlines though—recovery and grief is stressful enough without deadlines.