The Greenest Grass

On Tuesday, I went out to lunch with friends from work. They organized it to get me out of the house and see for themselves that I really was getting better. So, we headed to a neighborhood staple- Phil’s Tavern  in Blue Bell.  Dimly lit, extensive menu, and filled with locals.

This was the first time, in a long time, I’d been there to eat.  It took a while for me to order– I’m the girl who has to review a menu online before I go to a restaurant because I’m so indecisive with menu selections.  And I always have food envy.  I always think someone else’s meal is what I really should have ordered.  The menu was four pages long, so I really fumbled there for a few minutes.  However, once we started to place our order, you would have thought it was a scene out of “When Harry Met Sally” in the restaurant (NO, not THAT scene people), rather the one when Sally orders everything a certain way, and every sauce is on the side.  However, it wasn’t me causing the waitress anxiety, it was the ladies I lunched with.  Lots of replacements, every order was tweaked, and some of the “I’ll have what she’s having”.  So what did I order that was so high maintenance?  Turkey Club, and a glass of water.  I know, living dangerously, eh?

The conversation was non-stop.  With 6 women sitting around a table, that’s not surprising:)  The topics were wide ranging.  Talking about working on our houses.  Talked about how beautiful the weather had been.  Lots of gossip to catch up on– comings and goings at the office. Talked more about what I’ve missed since I’ve been gone these past 10 weeks.  We talked about me for a minute- therapy, back to work timeline, etc. but it did not dominate the discussion.  Which I loved.  It was nice to NOT talk about GBS.  It was nice to feel “normal” for that hour and just talk to each other as though I was heading back to the office with them.  Ahhh.  That was definitely the best part!

We said our goodbyes, and Janet drove me home.  I walked into my house feeling very positive and upbeat. That was a good outing. I had thought about cancelling, because of how I’ve been feeling the past few days. (See “Bust a Move“)  But, I pushed through, and am glad I did.  It was the best part of my day, so far!

So, feeling brave, I took off my boring flats, grabbed my bedazzled cane, and headed outside…Barefoot.   Yep.  Barefoot.  It was a beautiful day, and I just really wanted to feel the grass on my bare feet.  I walked out my front door, down the step, and onto the grass.  It was so cold, a little damp, and so green. It was the greenest grass I had ever seen.  It was the softest grass I had ever felt.  It was the quietest moment in my neighborhood.  I just stood there.  Barefoot. Eyes Closed.  Bedazzled cane in Hand.  I let the emotions come over me again.  I teared up as I realized how good the grass felt.  And how 5 weeks ago, I wouldn’t have felt this at all.  I wouldn’t have been able to stand on my front lawn.  Or close my eyes and smell everything.  Or listen to the silence in the moment.  I was lost in time standing there.  I felt the tears fall, just for a moment, and was glad I got up today.  Today was definitely a good day.

My reverie (I love that word, reverie) was interrupted by a woman who stopped to see if I was okay, I guess standing on your front lawn, barefoot, staring into the sky, with a cane is an odd site.  I told her I just got out of the hospital, and wanted to feel the grass on my feet.  She said “Good for you dear!” and walked to her car.  Yep!  Good for me!

I decided to be even braver and walked to my mailbox— 13 townhouses away. Yep.  Courageous Suzy was making an appearance. I walked slowly, still barefoot, down the sidewalk to the mailbox. I felt every step, felt every muscle move, and felt my ankles react every time they wanted to turn or tumble.   Still couldn’t feel my calves or my core, but the sensation in my feet certainly made up for it.  Yep. It took a while to get there, but who’s timing me?  I got the mail, and headed back to the house.  When I got a few feet away, a friend had just pulled in the driveway and was watching my courageous walk. I was so proud of myself.  A little embarrassed that I got busted walking outside, barefoot, by myself, but proud of how far I’d come since she saw me 5 weeks ago.

Since my confidence was kicking in, I decided to practice driving in my car, Stella.  Doesn’t everyone name their car?  Well, not real driving, but the movement of my right foot from the gas to the brake back to the gas again.  I wouldn’t actually leave the parking spot, just wanted to test the reflexes and strength of my legs. Well, maybe I’d drive around the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t go out on any roads yet. I’m not THAT brave. (or Foolish).

Well, my big plans came to a screeching halt. The car battery died.  Did you know that you need to start your car at least once a week, and in colder weather, three times a week, to keep the battery cranking?  My dad told me that, but I just figured it was something Dads said that weren’t really based on fact, just based on Dad reasoning. Like “Don’t crack your knuckles, because you’ll get arthritis” or “If you sit too close to the TV, you’ll ruin your eyes.  Nope. He was right.  Damn.  Note to self– Dad-isms can be factually accurate.

An hour later, AAA arrived to jumpstart my car.  I started talking to Bill, the AAA mechanic.  He asked me why I hadn’t started my car, so I told him the abbreviated story. I got sick, was in the hospital, and haven’t driven my car in 10 weeks.  “Really,” Bill said.  “I was in a rehab hospital for 18 months.  Got hit by a drunk driver- it was his 9th offense.  My car was so totalled, they couldn’t find me because I was pushed into the trunk of the car on impact.  I was told I’d never use my arms or legs again.”

“How did you get through it Bill?” I asked incredulously.

“My therapists.  It was a long, scary 18 months. They were by my side every day.  Doctors told me I’d never walk again.  My therapy team promised me the most expensive dinner if I was able to walk out of the hospital on my own, as motivation to achieve the impossible.   I ordered the biggest steak on the menu,” he said with tremendous pride. “And look at me now– I’m walking, talking, fully functional, and married with kids.  We still stay in touch, my therapy team and I, and send Christmas cards every year to each other.” He paused.

“When did you walk out of that hospital? ” I asked.

“1989”, he proclaimed.

Wow.  Almost 25 years later and he’s still grateful for his second chance.  And grateful to those that helped him survive.  I thought back again to the team at Bryn Mawr Rehab- Dr. Kraus, Aimee, Joe, Cheryl, Mary, Jared…. Yet another reason I was glad that I got up today.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have met Bill.

Now that my car was fired up, I got in, filled with excitement.  The radio was on— 90s on 9 of course.  I revved the engine, put all the windows down, opened the sunroof, slipped my sunglasses on and started to sing.  I was practicing the ankle movement from gas to brake.  Not an easy feat, but I did three sets of 10, and then took a break.  Then one of my favorite 90s band came on the radio-  DMB- Dave Matthews Band.

Brought me back to the Summer of 1997– freshly graduated from King’s, working at the Chamber of Commerce, and going out every night with my best friend Katherine.  Every Night.  Yes, remember those days?  When you could go out on a Tuesday (or Monday, or Wednesday…), stay til the bar closed, and still make it to work in Center City on time the next day?  Those were the best of times, those were the worst of times.  Our favorite place was the Pizza Time Saloon.  We’d hang out for hours, meeting new people, playing pool and listening to the same music over and over again in the Juke Box.  Always Dave Matthews, and sometimes we threw in the Spice Girls, just for a good laugh.

As Stella and I were wrapping up my own version of PT, this song came on the radio- Lie in Our Graves, DMB- one of my favorites.  It’s about looking back on your life and wondering if you lived a good one. “I can’t believe that we would lie in our graves, wondering if we had spent our living days well. I can’t believe that we would lie in our graves, dreaming of things that we might have been.”

Another day in the books. Today, was a good day.

Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Suz

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jeanie Tini on October 22, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Suzy,

    Everytime I read your entries I get so filled up!! What a gift you have – you are soo amazing – what strength and courage as well!!

    Text me if you need me this week – and have a wonderful birthday!!! xoxo

    God Bless you!!

    Love Jeanie

    Reply

  2. Posted by Peter Rowe on October 20, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Suzy,

    You write beautifully – personal, with clarity, with both the ups and the downs expressed with such feeling. Did they teach you that at Kings?

    BTW, you are doing much better than the Phillies and Eagles. Go Giants and Jets.

    Uncle Pete

    Reply

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