Sometimes in life, we just have to start over.
Lately I’ve been trying to learn to walk again. Actually, I can walk, more or less. But it hurts. And it doesn’t look good.
My goal is not so much about looking good. But I’d like to lose the pain. And the limp.
I don’t remember the first time I learned to walk. I’m told I was 10 months old. That was a long time ago. Never mind how long. No matter how long we’ve been doing something, it seems sometimes, somehow, like it or not, we all have to start over.
Three months ago, I had surgery to repair a broken ankle. The surgery went well. The ankle is doing fine, thank you, as long as I don’t try to walk.
Silly me. I honestly thought the problem was the boot, an orthopedic torture chamber I had to wear day and night, even in bed where it didn’t bother me much, but it had a nasty habit of kicking my husband’s shins.
I figured, once I got out of that boot and was no longer confined to a wheelchair, I’d just take off and start walking, like always. I didn’t plan on the fact that my ankle would be stiffer than my grandmother’s hair after a trip to the beauty parlor.
And all my other parts that I’d not used in months (my back, my knees, my sense of balance) had to wake up and learn once again to pitch in and do their various and essential and too often taken for granted jobs.
I keep singing in the back of my mind, “Dem Bones,” an old spiritual I learned as a child: “Toe bone connected to the foot bone, foot bone connected to the heel bone, heel bone connected to the ankle bone … now hear the word of the Lord!”
They’re all connected _ bones, body, heart, mind and soul.
Three times a week, I go to physical therapy where some very smart and patient (and, at times, hilarious) therapists, who are young enough to be my children, are teaching me how to stretch, strengthen and walk again, preferably without a limp.
It’s helping. One of the best things about it is seeing others _ some in worse shape than I am in _ who are starting over, too. If I need further inspiration, I call my brother, Joe, who was born blind with cerebral palsy and uses braces and a cane to find his way in a dark world.
This is not the first time I’ve had to start over. In my senior year of high school, I wondered “What will I do now?” I wanted to go college, but had no means to do so, just a stubborn little hope that kept whispering in my ear, “By the grace of God, you will do this, and all will be well.”
Then a deacon in my church arranged for me to take a test for a scholarship that paid my way through college.
Years later, when my children were born, and I felt so clueless as a mother, that same hope whispered again.
When I took a part-time job as a file clerk for a newspaper and ended up as a reporter.
When I wrote the first of what has been 25 years of columns.
When my dad took his life.
When my first husband lost his battle with cancer and I found myself alone in a four-bedroom house with five sets of dishes and no one to feed.
And two years later, when my former editor, in a nervous sweat, confessed his heart and asked me to give him a chance.
Those times and countless others, I heard that whisper: By the grace of God, you will do this, and all will be well.
It was always just enough to help me start over _ again.
If you are starting over, please know that you are not alone. Some of us do it every day. And we all do it sooner or later.
Keep listening for that whisper of hope.
I haven’t quite lost the limp yet. Maybe tomorrow. Until I do, I’ll keep singing, “Dem bones gonna walk around.”