Last February, while walking my dog, I slipped on an icy sidewalk and broke my arm, specifically my humerus, just above my elbow. Four hours of surgery and two months of physio therapy later and my arm is almost back to normal. It isn’t the same as it was before, and it never will be, but I can use my arm now and unless you happen to notice the scar, you’d never be able to tell that I was injured.
Yesterday a doctor friend of mine was marveling at how fast and how well I’ve recovered. Most people take much longer to get better. Some people lose the use of their arm forever. So I was lucky. So I’m pretty tough. So I’m kind of a super hero.
Now I’m going to tell you a secret: I haven’t recovered.
I’m not talking about the six-inch worm-like scar running up my elbow, or the fact that thanks to new metal parts my left arm is now one inch wider than my right. I’m told the numbness in my hand may or may not go away eventually, and my elbow still hurts, sometimes a lot, when it’s going to rain that day. I can live with all those things. But my elbow isn’t the only thing about me that changed.
These days, if I see a child fall I have to watch to make sure they are okay, even when they are not in my care. Before, I knew instinctively that they were fine, that they need nothing more than a parental cuddle and possibly a band-aid. I’m not so naive anymore. I know what can happen when bone meets pavement. I know how fragile we are.
Now that fall is here and the weather is turning colder, my heart clenches in fear at three simple words:
Winter is coming.
Now I’m one of those odd people who looks forward to winter. It’s my favourite season. I love the fresh feeling of cold air on my face. I love the beauty of the world in white. I love tobogganing and skating.
On the ice.
Ice = danger.
The thought of not enjoying winter fills me with anger. Anger at whatever city official decided not to salt the sidewalks on my street that day. Anger at myself for falling, and for being afraid of falling again.
It was a long time before I was able to walk the dog by myself without tears. By the time I could, the snow and ice had already melted away. I haven’t had the chance to face my fears since then. I didn’t even know the fear still existed until the leaves started to change. Now I live in dread of the season that I love so much.
I’ll get over it. I have to. I’m going to walk the dog on the iciest days. I’m going to take my kids to the skating rink. I’ll be okay when they fall. I’ll be terrified at first, then eventually I won’t be. You can’t have courage unless you have a fear to face. I have courage. I’m kind of a super hero.