When I graduated from college, I felt the import of being on the other side of a dividing line, as if a clear distinction had been drawn between my uneducated and my educated selves. "I'm a college graduate. Ask me anything." That refrain rolled around my head and out my mouth for a week or more as I attempted to become comfortable with the new, certified, me.
The day before our wedding, I looked across the motel pool at TBG and stared. I stared and I stared and I couldn't seem to relax my gaze. Husband was a big word, a word I was having difficulty incorporating into my sense of self. As I floated and considered and stared, I tried to come to terms with the fact that I was experiencing the last day of being single.
I was present, fully aware of the momentous import of the new day.
Sometimes, though, last days happen without being recognized for what they are. I spent January 7, 2011 reading a book and going to IHOP for a 10pm dinner of pancakes and eggs. I had no idea that the next day would introduce me to bullets and a medevac helicopter; it was a regular day, just like today. The sun was out, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, I had no place to go and no duties to perform. It was retirement at its apogee, all the good things of my life rolled into one delightfully self-indulgent package.
I spent the next fourteen weeks growing a new hip. They were self-indulgent weeks, of necessity, but there was nothing delightful about them. They were tinged with memories of before, they were burdened with sadness and loss, they were useful for designing the future, but they were quite disconnected from my former life.
Today is the anniversary of that former life, of that woman who existed before becoming perforated. That woman hiked two or three times a week; now she goes to therapy five times a week. Before, I lifted heavy boxes up onto high shelves without considering the danger inherent in climbing a ladder; after, I examine every aspect of every event in search of problem areas. I look both ways now. I plan my steps. I drive-through instead of getting-out-and-going-in.
Three years ago today, I thought of none of that. I could count on my body to do what was needed, to be strong and resilient and willing to be burdened. I scampered. I scurried. I ran.
Bullets took most of that away from me, although some is returning as time passes. I've learned the difference between exercise and rehabilitation, and though I long for the ecstatic release I felt after a hard work out, I've become comfortable with the aches and pains my rehab sessions engender. New sensations are signs of progress; if the pain is moving around, some parts must be healing and others must be waking up.
It makes sense to me, and that's all that matters.
That is, perhaps, the most important lesson I've learned. If I can make sense of a situation, that's all I need. I don't have to understand the why's and the what if's, because they won't change the outcome. I know what I want, and I can't have it. Christina-Taylor is gone, my hip is shattered, my sense of invulunerability has vanished. I have conjured up a way to live with the losses and the rearrangement of attitude and have come out, on the other side, with new skills, new friends, and a new appreciation for the mundane.
Still, it's nice to take a moment and remember that there was another me on the other side of tragedy. Sometimes, I miss her a lot.