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Tell Vernene I Can’t Sing on Sunday

January 19, 2009

Ten days ago I arrived late to pick up my daughter from kindergarten.  My toddler announced his need for a diaper change just as we were walking out the door.  So I changed him, and hustled out so quickly that I didn’t bother to put shoes on him.  Or socks.  I grabbed a pair, and stuck them in the back seat.

Daughter was the only kindergartener left.  I hate that.  I parked, and then made a long step to the sidewalk, trying to get over the slushy snow without getting my foot wet.  I misjudged the distance, came down hard on my leg, and felt something pop.  And then I felt intense pain.  And I screamed. I lay with my back on the cement. I couldn’t move my right leg, and I knew that something was seriously wrong.

Looking back, I am kind of glad I didn’t swear.  I don’t swear usually, but a situation like that could bring it out in me, who knows?  Now I know: I am much more likely to mutter naughty words dealing with the aftermath of a broken leg than I am to say them during the actual breaking.

But I was not thinking swear words right then.  I wish I could say that I was praying. I tried that. But what my mind kept going back to was not God, or peace, but instead a litany of all the things I was supposed to be doing that I would no longer be able to do because my leg was broken.  I was supposed to teach nursery on Sunday, and I was supposed to sing in church, and I needed to finish revising my essay for Segullah, and I needed to read all the contest essays and poems, and I needed to organize the papers on my kitchen counter, and figure out my food storage that I had gotten a nice start on over Christmas, and write those Christmas thank yous, and make dinner, and do laundry, and spend more one-on-one time with my kids, and break my board so I could get my next belt, and stay with my New Years diet I’d been somewhat successful with so far.

Daughter’s teacher called my husband and my mom, and then my neighbor.  My amazing neighbor arrived, and told me to breathe, and calm down, both of which I needed to hear.  I couldn’t stop apologizing for the accident. “I’m sorry,” I said.  “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

The circle of faces around me said “It’s okay, it’s okay.”  Norah’s teacher, the other kindergarten teacher, my neighbor, and now the school principal and vice principal.

They didn’t understand what I was apologizing for.  I am not sure I do either.  I think I was apologizing for forcing them to interrupt their plans to attend to my emergency.  I am not very graceful when someone’s emergency makes me change my plans, and I hated that I was now doing this to them.

I started babbling all the stuff I was thinking. “My son doesn’t have shoes on because we were in a hurry,” I said. My teeth chattered. “And someone needs to call Manolie and tell her I can’t be in the nursery, and someone needs to tell Vernene I can’t sing on Sunday.”

They laughed at this a little.  But on the actual day my leg broke, what first sent me into despairing hysterics was not the intense pain of my leg (broken in three places, it turned out: a spiral break on the fibula, and two smaller breaks on the tibia. I am now Borgified, with screws in place.), but the weight of not being able to keep up with mothering and writing and dieting and editing.  And the weight of relying on so many others to make my life happen.

I need to write a post about all the kind things that have been done for me; so many that I cannot absorb them all.  I will write that post. I am not going to forget. And I am grateful.

But part of me wishes that I never had to be on the receiving end of kindness, that no one else got to see my messy life.  If I hadn’t broken my leg, I would have sung on Sunday.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Shalissa Lindsay permalink
    January 20, 2009 4:03 am

    Oh Dear Emily,
    I am so, so sorry to hear about this accident. I am absolutely certain that my response in this situation would have been exactly like yours as you describe it: apologetic, and frustrated at the long to-do list and many instances where someone else has to view or make up for my weakness. My whole heart goes out to you now and for all the pain of recovery and circumstance. I will be praying for you every single day!!!

  2. Emily permalink*
    January 20, 2009 4:11 am

    Shalissa, wonderful to hear from you! How is the new baby and the family and the red ants (do they have red ants in the winter too)? It’s been too long since I talked to you. And I will gratefully receive your prayers.
    Much love,

  3. January 20, 2009 1:40 pm

    It’s tough when we are juggling the balls so nicely putting on a great show when something barrels in and knocks us to the ground and balls go tumbling all around us– we feel so apologetic for performance change, its alweays a good reminder to me of blessings- the simply ones of a healthy body, a good mind, etc–

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