Thursday, December 8, 2011

Healing 101: Hanging with the Boys

With 5 different family caregivers unavailable, my presence was required after school today.  There's nothing that could have pleased me more.

I've been grumpy and limping and not sleeping well at all.  Friends and professionals and professionals who are friends have all been reminding me that anniversaries are hard. They reassure me that the feelings are natural and that I shouldn't be surprised by their intensity.  I suppose that should help.  It doesn't.

As the months passed, getting shot felt further and further away.  Suddenly, it feels like yesterday.  I don't know why.

Is it that the last time I put out the holiday decorations I was lifting heavy boxes from the top shelf of the cabinet in the garage? Is it that there's snow on the mountain and last year at this time my 6am alarm would have sent me to the Pima Canyon trailhead to see how close to the flakes I could get?  Is it driving past the Reid Park Zoo this morning, thinking back to the Cornell Club outing last Fall with the Crayola kids, CTG hiding inside the dinosaur egg, feeling invisible and giggling at the foolishness of it all?

Or is it that this year I am struggling to move the poinsettia from one side of the living room?  Is it that my alarm got me up for a planning meeting and an acupuncture appointment and that hiking is impossible right now?  Is it that Christina won't be joining her brother and me when the Cornell Club takes us to see the new elephant exhibit this year?

Could it be that the calls from Channel 9 and the Arizona Star and the Arizona Republic and NBC must be returned?  Could it be sitting on a director's chair, talking to a blank camera, unresponsive and cold looking back at me, as the producer's instruction to "just say what happened that morning" was stuck in my throat?

Why do the opportunities, the invitations, the requests feel ghoulish now?  Eleven months ago the answers were news. News...  something new. Today, there are no new facts to reveal.  Today, there are still 6 dead and 13 wounded.  Today, our recovery is of interest only to ourselves...... or so I'd hoped.

Those reporters and producers?  They all start with the same general statement: they cannot believe that this story still has legs.  One went so far as to ask me if I thought that she should use the story. All I could tell her was that she was not the only person who was asking.

As Mark Kelly describes Gabby's recovery moving to weekly rather than daily changes, I feel reassured.  The pace has slowed down here, too.  It's comforting to know that I'm not alone.  On that level, injured human to injured human, I'm glad the question was asked and the answer televised.  It helped me.  What unnerves me is the lack of acknowledgement that the question is intrusive.

Healing in public is often supportive.  Strangers take delight in my progress.  Smiles greet me as I open the door for myself.  I am my own harshest critic, and my limp betrays me.  Rehab is hard and it hurts and the progress is slow and painful and success is not guaranteed.  How am I?  I really don't know.  I am wondering where I've gone. Where are you? is probably the better question.

So this afternoon, when Mr. 8 rode his plastic pedi-car into my leg and laughed as he oops-ed and rode away without any thought to the fact that bullets had gone through the appendage he was using to play bumper cars, this afternoon when I was nothing more than myself, when I was the grown-up and thus all powerful, when being damaged wasn't in anyone's consciousness but my own, this afternoon I felt just fine.

No one wondered how I was feeling.  No one wondered where I was.  They knew the answer without being asked - I was their Suzi and I was helping them make dinner.

How am I?  I think I'm getting back to normal.  Just ask the boys.


  1. I looked at my calendar today as I was starting my morning and realized it's the 8th. I thought about last January 8th and how my dad's family were at my house celebrating Christmas. I remember the guys watching football and the interruption from the news. I remember everyone putting their hands up to their mouths in disbelief... the images. It's hard to believe it's been almost a year, but for you it might always feel like it was yesterday. :(

    CTG's impish smile in the dinosaur egg at the zoo just always makes me smile. You showed that picture to Brian Williams and I remember it vividly. It captured her personality so well.

    I hope I'm not being intrusive in your healing. I come here because I love your writing and you fill me with hope.

    Sending a warm hug.

    Megan xxx

  2. I echo Megan that I love your writing, and I'm sorry that I didn't know about you "before." I severely injured my knee in May (a tendon) and was off work for 4 months and probably will always feel pain there ... and my emotions are still all over the map about the unfairness of it all. Yet I was responsible for my own fall, I was not assaulted in the unfair and brutal way that you were, so I would expect your emotions to continue a roller coaster ride for quite awhile. I can understand how the media attention may seem ghoulish, but I truly think that most of us care about you and all the others maybe partly because of Gabby, but also because we are sympathetic to the unfairness of the innocent victim scenario. It's a very sad world where a Congresswoman can't talk to her constituents safely. Sending warm wishes your way for continued healing!

  3. It's makes me happy to see you in the spirit of the season and decorating; just trying to be your normal Suzi-self. It must feel out of body to have journalists and public figures querying your healing process, but most seem to come from a place of good. I hope it helps to get your message and words out there!

  4. Based on the anecdote with Mr. 6, I will not be concerned about Thomas jumping directly on your injured leg when you come visit in January. I will instead step back and consider it a helpful part of the healing process :)

  5. Sounds like a good way to heal.


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