It is now four weeks after my appendix, ovary and Fallopian tube were removed along with the offending 16cm cyst. My belly is no longer purple and I can do things like drive and shower without pain. Unfortunately, a slow walk to drop off our six year old at school resulted in an emergency stop at a park bench in the middle of my walk and a two hour recovery in bed with lingering pain for the rest of the day.
My physical therapist friend saw me out and texted congratulations for such a feat. I replied with moans and this is what she said, “The middle of recovery it is the hardest to appreciate both how far you have come, and how much your body will continue to heal.”
At this moment I feel as though truer words have yet to be spoken.
I used to wear pants. They were colorful and funky, thrift-shop finds and occasional splurges. With my pants came self judgement. “Why are these too tight? I need to eat less or exercise more. Why am I not taking care of myself? Why did I think I could even pull off wearing these pants in the first place?”
Then my in-laws gave me a few pair of spectacular tights. Not only were they colorful and fun, but when I wore them, I just felt happy. That extra few pounds that would come and go, did so without my self torment. Although my bike commute quickly tore up my fabulous leg wear, I replaced the tights with equally adventurous leggings and haven’t looked back since. Now I work and play without self shaming.
We all need tools to help us let go. One of my favorites is Lycra.
My kids love to read a classic Sesame Street book called, “I Can Do It Myself”. In it, Ernie and Bert comb their hair, get dressed, and make their beds all by themselves. It’s great encouragement for early childhood independence. However today I saw the cover and had another thought; sometimes I can do it by myself. Other times I’m really grateful for the community of support that lifts my family and me through thick and thin.
If I were to write a sequel, it would be titled, “I am Glad I Do Not Always Have to Do It Myself”
A gorgeous elder shared the elevator with me in New York. I commented on her joyful red nails. She said it was her way to brighten up the daily nightmare that is our current political reality.
Sometimes the frivolous is a necessity.
Our neighborhood is ugly. All of the houses were build in the sixties (the raised ranch genre is limited). Even though I intellectually knew it was a wise purchase because of the schools, commute, and yard, I still inwardly cringed while strolling down the street.
All of a sudden today I saw beauty for the first time. Not in the standard concrete steps or routine brown paint but rather in the soul of each house. I gave thanks for the neighbors who have brought over food and helped with kid care during my recovery. I smiled at the connection with the other two mom family with twins living on the corner and the three generations of Vietnamese neighbors we are lucky enough to live next to. My heart went from door to door, thankful for the community we call our own.
After five long years and all of a sudden, I live in the most beautiful neighborhood one could imagine.
I tap my chest to release the gases caught there by my recent surgery. It’s only now that I understand the pain of my nine-year-old friend who thrashes back and forth in his wheelchair until a burp finally erupts and he can sit back at ease.
My pain is temporary but my compassion will be long-lasting.
Instead of hurrying outside to play, one child paused to watch beautifully slow drips of water dance down the window. I couldn’t help but join in the wonder. I claim to teach children, in truth I have finally shed my blinders enough to see my teachers are in front of me.