Sunday, December 30, 2012
I forgive you, the Breakable Body
A year ago today I woke to a phone call from my daughter's coach that began, "I'm with M right now. And I want you to know that she's conscious." Because that was the best of the bad news. In the minutes it took to tell her father, wake her sister, throw clothes on and drive to the scene whose whirling lights we could see before we could see our daughter lying on the frozen ground, during those long minutes, I didn't know what I would find, what I would see, what she would ever be able to do, how our lives would be from that day forward.
We were lucky. We were blessed. We were blessed and lucky and so grateful. We kept thanking everyone -- ambulance drivers, nurses, interns, technicians, specialists, physical therapists, friends who came to visit, family who called. Grateful for everything that happened to help, grateful for everything that didn't happen that might have made it worse.
Today my daughter ran her defiance of you, the Breakable Body. Or celebration of you. I don't know which. The sweetness of her patience with you, the fire of her courage rebuilding you, her clever willingness to find other paths when your necessities have closed down the planned itinerary have been a thrill for me to witness. Another instance to be grateful for. There has been no room in my gratitude and hope and prayers for anger.
Which made it strange to wake to a low-boiling rage. I wondered what was wrong with me, never thinking of you, the Breakable Body. You were over and dealt with. We had moved on. Maybe it was the age I am now, the later nights this past week, the holiday indulgences. I thought I'd sweat it out, whatever it was.
On the way to the gym I saw the cross country coach with her gaggle of runners running towards me on the side of the road and my arms prickled all over with fear. But I pushed it away and pushed my body through an hour of exercise, dripping with sweat, though bile rose in my throat when they played a catchy song about a gun and all the little children better run better run. A substitute yoga instructor slipped up to the front of the class as we were ending -- even seen out of the corner of my eye, even though the lights were already lowered in preparation for his class, something about him flapped out as wrong. It wasn't until he led our class the next hour, his body lean and strong as a dancer's, that I realized he was missing most of one hand. I tried not to watch the missing hand.
How do you try not to watch the missing hand?
What had happened? A factory accident? Motorcycle? Birth defect? More and more I had to watch that hand, leading me through the poses. The Mountain. The Tiger. The Downward Dog. While we held our difficult balances he walked around to each of us, checking our alignment, showing us with his hands, both hands, how our hands should be held.
I had no choice but to contemplate you, the Breakable Body. Trying to balance, my eyes fixed on my own broken toe that's healed crooked and no longer supports my foot like it was made at first to do. When we lay and meditated, my mind refused the still pool of warm water and kept curving back to a raptor's curved screech and the flapping of battered wings, beating against the air and going nowhere.
I came home in a rage. "You're growling, Mom," said my Eldest.
"Am I? I don't know why. I'm just so angry at everything and nothing seems to help."
Until Middlest at last came home and my relief to see her, which is seeing you, her Breakable Body, made me sob. Though I am not a sobber. I thought I knew myself. I thought I'd already swept my heart clean.
So here I am, sweeping again. Saying I see you, the Breakable Body, I name you. I am mourning you, the Breakable Body, acknowledging you and recognizing you for what you are. (What are you? Inescapable Mortality? Precious Ephemerality?) Trying to let you go, to move past you. Trying to forgive you.