Here’s to Landing on Our Feet

I just returned from dropping my daughter off at the local subway station, where she and her fellow Girl Guides are selling cookies. They do this every year, and I was struck by the memory of walking her to the station last year.

I tore my ACL last October, and walking was excruciating. The subway is three blocks away, and every step hurt. By the time I returned home, I was crying — crying from the pain as well as from the fear. Was I going to get better?

Today I read the following lines in Meg Wolitzer’s Surrender, Dorothy:

Immortality was the vehicle that transported me, every summer, to the squalid little house we called our own. Immortality was the thing I rode in, barely noticing. I was like a member of the ruling class being held in the spindly arms of a rickshaw, never once looking down at the long bamboo joints, or thinking to observe the nape of the neck of the boy who bent to hold the conveyance aloft.

I was content merely to stay aloft, imagining that the ride would go on and on like one of the lengthy dinners we used to have in the house. I was held aloft for so many summers that I took the ride for granted…

… I was held aloft and shimmering for years, never knowing that this in itself was an impressive feat, an anomaly, until one day, at age thirty, I landed.

We can all relate to the moment when we “land.” For me, it was tearing my ACL at age forty-two (both a literal and figurative landing). Before that, I was still feeling youthful and invincible. There was no can’t in my vocabulary.

But how lucky am I? How lucky am I to have had access to a great surgeon? How lucky am I to live in a country with universal health care? How lucky am I to have insurance for physio? How lucky am I to have time to devote to rehabilitating my knee? How lucky am I that my family was willing and able to do without my help for several days? How lucky am I that this is the first bad thing I’ve personally had to deal with?

I’ve  been doing my physio exercises these last 7 weeks since surgery, and I’ve got a ways to go. The exercises are a blast from the past, because I was doing these same exercises last year when I got injured. For the most part, it’s been like being injured all over again.

But today my physiotherapist said, “You’ll be doing some running and jumping in a couple of months.” And it hit me for the first time since those first few euphoric hours post-surgery: I’ve got myself a new ACL, and soon I can use it. And soon after that, I can forget all about it.

How lucky am I? Very, very lucky.

I have landed, but I got back up (with a lot of help) — like I’ll get to do many, many times in this life if I continue to be lucky.


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