Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Break (02/06/06)
TITLE: A Most Painful Break
By Shannah Hogue
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Actually, both breaks were painful, in their own way. Obviously, falling down the stairs carrying my laundry basket (too full) was not fun. I stepped onto the first step and slipped right down to the second one; the rest of me followed suit. There I was at the bottom of the stairs: covered in dirty socks and instantly in more pain that I can ever remember, even when I gave birth to our twins, naturally!
My husband rushed me to the hospital, and I was sent home two days later, my left leg in a cast that reached from my foot to halfway up my thigh. The medication helped with the pain in my leg, but sometime in the first few days, the second pain started.
I often whine about needing a break, but I don’t really want one. Breaks are too quiet. Breaks mean I don’t have enough to fill my time. Breaks mean having time to listen to the thoughts in my head that I usually am busy enough to ignore. Truthfully, I don’t want a break; I just want everyone to notice how much I need one.
But this break was even worse. I was utterly dependent. It was just little things at first: not being able to get up and down stairs alone, not being able to get to the bathroom alone, not being able to bathe myself alone (can’t get that cast wet!). As the pain in my leg subsided, the pain of my enforced “vacation” got worse. My husband had to cook and clean. My sons had to do their own laundry. My daughter’s job was to help Mom up and down the stairs.
Even after I got some mobility back, I still was at the mercy of the hundreds of things I couldn’t do. I needed help for almost every little task. Every morning, my youngest son helped Mommy load up like a pack-mule before work: first my jacket, then purse and briefcase slung over my left shoulder, next situate the crutches, and finally hand me my breakfast, my lunch, and my newspaper. And that was all before I’d left the house. My husband had to drive me to work, and I couldn’t even get to my desk by myself. I needed help in the elevator (and the stairs on the day the elevators were broken) and the tiny hallways, and someone else had to open every single door in the building, including the one to my own office. What a pain!
I spent 6 weeks on “break,” needing help for everything. I had to accept every kind offer; I had no choice. I was on break from my ego, my pride, my self-sufficiency. And it hurt.
But sometimes, pain brings growth. Somewhere in those six weeks, I noticed something. My busy-ness had blinded me, but my pain was eye-opening. I saw my sons, growing up so fast. I talked to my husband on our commute about life and things; we laughed together again. I noticed that my daughter talks like me, gestures like me, and she’s even started to pick up my attitudes about keeping busy and avoiding breaks. I was amazed how many little things I’ve missed by being so busy.
Anyway, I got my cast off yesterday, so my break is over. But perhaps it’s time for a different break: a permanent vacation from the narrow perspective of my previous existence. Perhaps it’s time to pay a little more attention to being with people and less time doing things for them. Oh…and perhaps I’ll avoid carrying so much laundry down the stairs in the future.
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