I've been counting down since January, although I realized recently that I don't know what I'm counting down to.
When I left the hospital, someone said "In a year you won't even know this happened to you." He or she -I remember the words, not the speaker- was referring to my physical condition, not my emotional response, but it doesn't matter.
The reality is that, as the anniversary of January 8th inches closer, I am more and more focused on thinking about what happened to me.
The Happy Ladies Club has been hiking together for months now, without me. The paths will be there when I am ready, I know, but I'm feeling the loss as the weather turns cooler and my polar fleece vest stares at me from the closet. There's no need for it down here, but up on the mountain it comes in quite handy. Were it animate, it would have grabbed my hand and asked why it was still relegated to the closet.
The answer is simple - walking is hard work.
I'm more limber and I'm stronger, but endurance was never my long suit and it's certainly not any more palatable these days. I am more capable, both in pilates and in the kitchen. I can carry a heavy skillet from the oven to the cooktop with two hands, pivoting on my right leg. I couldn't do that in August, the last time I made that meal. I am making progress, but I still know this happened to me.
I was driving to Office Max on Saturday, NPR droning in the background, the sun shining and traffic moving well when it became clear to me that I had been shot. I don't know what set me off, what made me say it out loud, but I found myself announcing, to no one, "I was shot. Bullets went through me." I could feel them ripping through my body.
It was very odd, denizens. Very odd indeed. I have no memory of that actually happening to me, yet there I was, going 35 miles an hour and contemplating the confluence of weaponry and me. It wasn't scary, just very real and very odd.
As I move further away from the event, it seems to become closer and more immediate. Connections between those of us who were there that morning have deepened; our hugs are longer and more intense. The media frenzy over Gabby's book, the approaching anniversary and atttendant activities, the popping and clicking as I stand more upright and move my femur more freely, they combine to remind me. Over and over again, they remind me.
This is not a bad thing. It's important to keep certain memories close to my heart, sharp and clear and present.
Christina-Taylor will always be inextricably intertwined with my Thanksgiving memories. Donning my turkey apron, selecting serving pieces as G'ma supervises, filling the glasses with ice and water.... she will be in the kitchen on Thursday, albeit only in our hearts. She will never be forgotten; I'll just have to imagine her growing older.
My hip will creak and I'll scowl and groan and then I'll notice that I've carried all the heavy grocery bags out of the trunk and into the kitchen. I wasn't doing that last month. I didn't even try. The lumbering gait I've adopted is better than dragging my stiff limb along with me as I locomote.... it's not walking yet but it's a closer approximation to the real thing.
Perhaps I am putting things in perspective. I always giggle at that phrase, wondering where perpective might be, and if it has a door I can close to contain whatever is going behind it. I think perspective changes over time. What was cannot be what is. I cannot stay in that dark place. I cannot wallow in the loss and the pain and the waste. Yet, I don't want to lose those thoughts, those feelings, those important details that make up the whole.
Perhaps this is why things feel more immediate. As they gather themselves into a bundle, preparing to occupy a lower shelf in my memory bank, perhaps I am revisiting them once again, just to be sure that I am wrapping them up safely. Perhaps I ought to welcome the pinches of my heart and the incessant references to Gabby and Mark and the shooting. His book tour touches down in Tucson next week. Perhaps I'll attend.
Perhaps is a good place for me right now. My reality is uncertain, my past surreal, my future taking a turn off the path I'd imagined. But I am here to tell the tale.
Perhaps. That may be all I am capable of right now.