I think, I’m just sitting there watching Home and Family, tugging on the dreaded compression stockings that control the lymphedema in my lower legs, the gift from cancer so I won’t forget. I detest these ugly things, but they keep my legs from blowing up from the lymph collected in them. I whine about this nuisance instead of reflecting upon how valuable these stockings are to control this problem. They are unattractive, hard to get on, and daily crowd my feet in my shoes to make all foot gear a challenge.
I am very vain. I love shoes. Fishnet stockings. Who says I’m too old for them? Short skirts, whatever shows off my legs. Well. All that is gone. Flats and slacks for me nowadays. All days. Poor me. Cue the violins. Add a few tears.
The best guest on the show today…. I rarely watch this show….is a perky young woman, direct of gaze, with a message she owns. She’s talking about prosthetics, specifically, hers. She’s Adrianne Haslet-Davis, one of several victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Adrianne lost her left leg to this assault.
But you’d never know it. The still small voice says to me, “Pay attention. This is a teachable moment.”
Adrianne is a dancer. Her movement is a testament to her determination. She’s my immediate lesson for this day. There she is, missing a leg, and I’m kvetching about the stockings I wear on both my legs. I watched this young woman experiencing the power of her determination making her whole. In this order, my emotions told me about myself: Wow. What a woman! Wow. The technology of her prosthesis is amazing. Wow. She can do anything she sets her mind to. Wow. She has refuted the purpose of young men who would kill all those in their path if they could. Wow. I’m allowing defeat of my own accomplishment and triumph because I have the privilege to purchase ugly stockings that make my life easier.
I’m sitting in the privacy of my bedroom, alone, feeling embarrassment and shame. A memory is triggered. I’m ten years old, sitting on the back porch, crying. Mama wants to know what’s the problem this time.
“I have this ugly scar. I don’t want anyone else to see it.” She lights into me, saying I’m one lucky little girl to still have my foot with a scar, nearly lost in a nasty kitchen accident. Stop the damned crying and get out there with the rest of the kids and play! Mama had a way of getting down to it without wasting a nanosecond. Sympathy was not her strong suit.
I look at the still visible scar, ancient remnant of that long ago injury. I look at the beautiful young woman on the screen, missing a whole limb, sharing her experience and her victory.
Perspective is everything.