I know not how I did it. One moment, I was in my basement, curled on my old couch and reading from the pile of paperbacks littering the floor. Another, I was dutifully piling said books and loading them on shelves. Finally, I was frowning down at my ankle, disturbed by the pain it was causing.
Not wanting my ankle to be sore, I stood on my healthy leg and shook out the sore one. Rotated it in circles. Gave a warning glare. Then cursed at my right ankle when it continued to cause pain to shoot through my leg when asked to bear weight.
Returning to the couch, I propped myself on pillows and blankets, assuming my little nest of healing would work its magic and I'd soon be all better. However, when trying to climb the stairs, I realized I was decidedly not healed. And my limping stride up the stairs was surpassed in pace by my elderly, blind canine friend.
"I'm injured," I explained when she waited for me at the landing. She wagged her tail sympathetically before wandering to the sliding door and waiting to be let outside. I hobbled over, shaking my ankle vigorously for good measure, and opened the door, taking a moment to inhale the scents of fall outside.
I did the same this morning - clipping a leash to Chienne and stepping off the front porch to begin our walk. I had decided I was going to be all better and my ankle was cooperating beautifully.
Until it suddenly stopped - a vague ache morphing to sharp pains apropos of nothing. So I paused for a moment, Chienne obediently glancing backward before sniffing at a tree trunk.
I find myself avoiding those pauses for the most part. Remaining quietly busy - hosting Sibling before she abandoned the gently rolling hills of the upper Midwest for towering buildings and busy streets in NYC. Immersing myself in my new team - leading activities to build our interaction skills, drowning in documentation and revisions and lengthy arguments about said changes.
"I'm happy," I replied when someone from my old team asked during an event I'd organized last week. "I know it happened almost accidentally and I had panicked moments where I wondered if I was taking a professional step back. But I do like it. I can do good things here. I'm sincerely pleased."
I returned from a dinner out one evening, already tapping at my laptop to reply to email as I'd drank but one glass of wine and was in fine shape to continue working, I called Mom - as is my now-daily habit - to check in.
And she wouldn't stop crying. I prayed. And talked. And blinked back my own tears. Cursed the three hour drive that stood between me being present for her. So I called Aunt and asked her to go. Once she was en route, I moved to the recliner Dad gave me - the one I never-ever use - and sat on the edge of the seat.
And I wept. Unable to push it down or lock it away, the pain escaped in wretching sobs that had me curled in a ball. Grief escaped, filling the house with violent expulsions I could neither control or pause.
I slept afterward, swallowing a tiny tablet that eases anxiety before climbing the stairs to bed. I lapsed into rest with the sounds of my pitiful moans echoing in my ears.
"It's all so painfully different," I told Friend when I called one night.
"Yes," she said, voice beautifully familiar and soothing. A reminder that some people who were part of what was good before are still part of what will come and be good again. "It's all completely different. And not all that different at all."
Though I've mangled that quote - let's call it artistic license and crappy memory - it helped. When I'm ready to acknowledge it, I'll note that the changes have occurred. That some are lovely and others grotesque. But - whether noted or ignored - it will be OK.
Though my ankle still hurts.