Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Change: 16

Helen Keller Day

(This is an ongoing story. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.)

Could today be the day?

My foot barely hurt at all yesterday and today it feels pretty good as well.

AE says that her heart surgeries created such a twist in her torso that it took years for her Carpal Tunnel to resolve. Her hand remained numb for a long time and then, after a long while, it became “slightly less numb,” and just stayed that way. Eventually, she resigned herself to having a numb hand for the rest of her life. Then, one day she was folding laundry and she noticed she could feel the clothing with her numb hand. She could feel it. 

She started running around the room touching everything, like Helen Keller when she learned to sign. Poof. The numbness disappeared and never returned. AE’s yo-yo had spun out.

My husband lost his most of his vision when he was in his twenties (a genetic condition that emerged suddenly and unexpectedly) and, as you can imagine, had a hard time dealing with the loss.  In addition to the many eye doctors, neurologists and spiritual healers he visited at the time, he started seeing a psychologist to help him sort out his complex emotions.

After a time, when it became clear that his condition was permanent, the therapist counseled him to begin the grieving process for the old, sighted him.  She said that a loss like that was like a death, and it was necessary to mourn the loss of the Old Him so he could move on and see what the New Him was like.  As sad as that sounds, it was enormously liberating for him and it’s an idea that I’ve used in my own life – for example, mourning the loss of the me that had dad, which is different than mourning the loss of my dad himself. 

When AE talks about resigning herself to a life of numbness, I think of it as her mourning the AE That Could Feel. It’s not about giving up.  It’s a way to move on.  And sometimes maybe we need to move on in order to get to what’s next.

I have not yet mourned the me who can take a daily 3-mile walk, or the me who can run around on a tennis court, or the me who can pedal through an hour-long spin class, or can take a tour of her son’s new college, or can rip it up at the N’Orlean’s Dance Party Fundraiser this Friday night.

I still wake up and wonder, is this my Helen Keller Day? And maybe that’s holding me back.


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