I waited in the gift shop, beside the front door, for the car to come around. Several people who came in asked if I needed help. I say, "No, I'm waiting for the car to come round" politely, even though their offers of assistance become annoying after a while. I am sitting comfortably in my chair and I am enjoying watching people go by. There was a lot to watch and much to think about.
Then I heard, 'out of the corner of my ear' someone say, "I can't believe how my life has changed over the last year." The speaker wandered out of earshot so I wasn't sure what he was referring to. I couldn't even tell from his tone of voice if the change was something good or something bad. All I knew was that my train of thought had been yanked from one track and set upon another.
Here I am sitting in a wheelchair waiting for a car to come round. I think it really hit me that I was was disabled for the first time. It's been three years now that I've used a chair. But that's only three years out of 55. For 52 years I walked with the rest of you. But now, certainly, I am sitting in a gift shop, looking out of the window, waiting for the car to pull up.
How'd that all happen?
I reviewed the journey from the catastrophic illness to the wheelchair. I was so grateful to the chair when it first appeared in my life. When Joe rolled it into the room in preparation of getting me out and down for a tea, I almost wept with relief. I was getting out of confinement and into mobility. The best way possible to have a chair introduced to your life.
But now, sitting in a gift shop, watching others go by and waiting for the car - I realize how much my life has changed. I don't even think of doing some things that were natural to me for 52 years. Only hours ago I had looked at six stairs up and then 5 stairs down and felt that I was facing an obstacle that no amount of positive thinking would lessen.
A stranger's voice asked me to think about that for a second. About the mammoth way my life has changed. And yet not changed. I am still who I am, who I was - but different. I still do what I do, what I did - but differently. I think I notice more now than I did before. I think I think more now than I did before. I care less about some things, more about others. But that would have come with age anyway, wouldn't it?
The car pulls up and I see Joe get out to come up and get me. I hit the button that opens the door and push myself out into the sun and the heat. There is a gentle slope down to the car and I use my gloves to slow the descent but I enjoy the ease of movement and the gentle breeze that I feel on the way down to the car.
I can't believe how much my life has changed.