Lessons from Crutches …
Riding up the ski slopes on a snowmobile had never been on my bucket list. But being pro-active in life, I check-marked that experience even before it got on the list. The beauty of the mountains were subdued by a ski induced knee fracture. And now crutches, and other devices are temporarily part of my day to day activity.
When I was sixteen, my five-years-older-than-I sister headed back to university after a weekend at home. I worried for her safety because she was traveling an hour and a half in a severe prairie snowstorm. My stomach twisted tight as visibility reduced, and I was afraid because I had recently been saved at an evangelistic meeting. As my sister drove into the city, I bargained with God promising that if she would make it safely, I would send her a letter. I don’t remember my exact words, but I’m fairly certain I included a salvation option with the fire insurance policy. Likely I tossed in a four spiritual laws gospel tract for good measure. I’m not sure if she responded by mail, or in person the next time we met. But, bolstered by her university secular insight, she suggested that she was fine and if I needed religion as my crutch that was also fine. She assured me she did not. Nearly forty-seven years later I recall that reference to a crutch as I am hobbling about the house after my ski injury.
And I have come to appreciate the value of a crutch. Technically I’m not even supposed to let my left big toe touch the ground, and I am not strong enough to stand on one foot all day. In fact I need two crutches. By definition crutch means:
a long stick with a crosspiece at the top, used as a support under the armpit by a lame [yes they use the word lame] person, a thing used for support or reassurance.
And I am feeling rather lame. It’s lame that I can’t brush my teeth without wobbling. It’s lame that going up three stairs causes me to rethink where I will go. It’s lame that the auto doors at the grocery store almost knocked out my left crutch, causing a near face plant into bananas. But, I am glad that I have some thing for support and reassurance. I’m also kind of curious as to what kinds of things people use as crutches to prop them up. Drugs, alcohol, religion and technology appear the easy ones to pick on. What about our over busy-ness? That might not be a crutch, it might just be a way of avoiding ourselves. Why does the idea of a crutch carry a negative undertone?
At the beginning of a small self pity episode, my husband kindly reminded me that prior to the G-2 knee brace (that has become my new best friend) I would have been in a full leg cast, from upper thigh to ankle for six to eight weeks. Try that on for size. Over a decade ago after a profound loss, in a time of deep grieving, I expressed to those around me, that people with a physical injury knew what type and length of recovery process to expect. But, neither grief, nor long term illness has the benefit of a well defined time period. I am very aware that I can expect a full return to activity, granted I am in my sixties and likely will have a stiff knee, but I still hope to ski again. Shattered dreams this is not, by comparison to what some Canadian hockey families are going through. Many crutches and supportive communities are needed for restoration of that magnitude. We often don’t know what to say other than that: Our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Spring is in the air, although with reluctance. On a day like today, I breathe deep, feeling very grateful that there is much to be thankful for, many moments to laugh at myself and most importantly, that it is okay to use crutches for this crazy thing we call life. We all need somebody to lean on.
Here’s the lean on me song … Playing for change, song around the world.
In the month of April, Jocelyn is offering a complimentary copy of her book on grief: Who is Talking Out of My Head, Grief as an Out of Body Experience. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org