Slow Learner

Not long after he got home from the hospital, I slapped David. Hard.

By then, he could transfer from wheelchair to car by standing and edging over a few steps as I supported him. Then he would half-sit, half-collapse onto the car seat. There wasn’t much clearance, and I was always afraid he would whack the top of his head on the door frame.

This time, I was sure of it. I thrust out a protective hand, misjudged, and smacked him in the face.

Then I burst into tears.

Once he got over the shock of being slugged by his wife, David’s sense of humor kicked in. He enjoyed telling the story. And he got plenty of laughs with the (literal) punch line that although he got slapped, I was the one who cried.

I didn’t mind being the subject of the joke. In private, we had talked through the complexities of the episode. Why did I cry? Because I’d “done it wrong.” I was too tightly strung on the new reality of David’s spinal cord injury, of taking good care of him, being responsible. I was trying to do everything, and do it right. The realization helped me make a few healthy changes.

Recently I’ve found myself back in the same trap. But this time it has to do with, of all things, this blog.

I need to think about this some more. So, until next time.

Life After

Yesterday, I finally remembered to bring the rabbit poop home.

When disaster hits, you hunker down in sheer survival. Your focus intensifies and your world shrinks. But after a while, you adapt. Gradually for the most part, but with an occasional mighty bound, life opens up, broadens out, moves in different directions.

For me, my Friday morning group has been a mighty bound.

Two years after David broke his neck, he fell and broke his hip. (You’ll notice he doesn’t believe in having minor accidents.) At the hospital, he met a nurse who mentioned being in a weekly writer’s critique group. His ears pricked up on my behalf, and he asked if there was room for one more.

There was, and the combination of creativity and community busted my little world wide open. I can’t imagine not having these people in my life. We argue about commas, laugh uproariously over misplaced modifiers, and fall in love with each other’s characters. We spend our Friday mornings in focused critique, but our personal lives have also become connected. I take newspapers for Donita’s bunny cage, and she gives me rabbit poop to fertilize my garden. I keep forgetting to take it home, so she tucks it back in the drawer and we both forget it. Now, though, I’m set for spring.

As for the writing, I don’t know if anything will ever come of it. A publishing house has my novel, and the editor likes it. She plans to submit it to the committee, which is encouraging but leaves plenty of room for rejection.

But at least there’s hope.

And rabbit poop.

Hope

My friend’s young son died this morning.

Life already felt tough today, and that news took things to a deeper level. But when everything seems gray and heavy, I know it won’t last. I know that even if the circumstances don’t change, the way I see them will. Light returns.

We know this, because we’ve been through darkness before. It helps just to say it.