An ode to ........
Once upon a time, there was a man who got sick and lost one of his legs.
He had a choice, learn to walk on a prosthetic leg or learn to navigate the world in a wheelchair. He chooses to learn to walk again, in fact, he chose to live every day more than he ever had.
He had learnt the invaluable lesson, the hard way. Living and really living are to very different things. The activities he would do each day may be the same, well adapted to his new one-legged life but they would look the same to the outside world, he would walk, grocery shop, cook, eat, sleep but now he would merrier in doing it all, now it would all have an indulgent feel to it.
One less leg, same daily tasks but yet he felt freer. How could this be you ask, I don’t know this story isn’t about me, but I know the man it is about and he tells me “each day I wake I am thankful to have this day to live. I am thankful to have my remaining other limbs to use. I am thankful to have my sight, and my smile still.
This man must have some amazing brain, I think.
But then 15 years pass’s he is still standing, albeit slightly more hunched, his brain starts to slow, his memory get some blank spots but he kept walking, grocery shopping and marvelling at the world around him. The same streets, the same walk, the same back garden all still explode colour and newness in his eyes. He still gets up every day and does all his body allowed him, holding on to what his mind let him and said thank you each night.
Then the pandemic hit, and with each lockdown, he lost more than just his freedom. As his world shrank his mind did too, his body stiffened and his pain levels increased from the lack of movement his world shrunk to be only indoor.
His body, mind and spirit missed the outdoor, his interactions with people, his usual walk, his daily routine. Since he had lost the leg, he had honoured his many illnesses and disabilities, moving, living and laughing for as long as was in his power to do so.
But in lockdown taking his freedom, it slowly took some other things too, his mobility declined, his pain increase and his memory forgot more. He did what he did best, he fought to keep upright, he accepted the changes in his health and did what was in his control to hold to what was left. They call him a walking medical miracle, they do medical presentations about him, he has even signed up for his body to be passed over to science once there is not enough left to keep him living.
Lockdown has been hard for us all. The first lockdown was petrifying!! A pandemic? the air is dangerous? we could be a danger to eachothers? what? how is this possible?
Then to resignation. O.k ill go my bit. Ill plan life to kick off again in a few months, it’s only for a while, I can do this.
And here we are in 2021. I have few words for how I feel so far this year.
Grief over still feeling like we are deep in a pandemic
Morning for the loss of a year of my life t waiting.
Then guilt for feeling such selfish things. For while I sit on an 80acre farm in the countryside frantic someday with the claustrophobic feeling that comes with being confined to live in only 5km, this man sits in the hospital where he has to wear a mask even when he sleeps.
With no family allowed to visit, no nicely cooked meal to bring his joy and no tv to help distract him from the reality that he is on the journey that will leave him with no legs. His remaining foot got an infection. They might just take a toe this time but in time there will be nothing but false legs holding him up. Because you know ifs it possible the walking medical miracle will walk again, and he will say thank you for this day, again.
The truth is, even sitting in the hospital alone facing such a harsh reality, he still says thank you most nights. I know because I get to ring him before bed and listen to his sadness and fear but always there is a thank you in there too. What he is abundantly grateful for will astound you. Someone brought him a coffee from the coffee shop the other day he say’s “it was heavenly. I took 3 hours to drink it and it really lifted my spirits.”
While here I sit on 80acre of nature, with 2 legs to walk it, a brain that is able to capture and hold on to all of its beauty. Yet feeling sombre and full of self-pity because covid is taking too long to go away and I want to roam free further than 5km.
I have been reminded to look at what I have and not focus on what I don’t. Each day feels truly like a gift again, Each walk I take his wonderment with me and celebrate my two working legs.
I share this not to tell you that your cant, or shouldn’t, feel bad because someone has it worse than you because that is simply not something I believe in. What feels bad, feels bad regardless of what you have or don’t have, and let me point out this amazing man would be the first to tell you many have it worse than him.
I share this because his situation has reminded me to see all I have, be grateful for what today allows and soak up any good feelings moments bring.