Over a meal, a relative asked, “so is everything back to normal?” I nodded my head resolutely while my son sitting next to me shook his head emphatically and said, “no.” “What do you mean?” I asked him. “It will never be normal again. Things have changed.”
No truer words were spoken over the holiday. What a wise observer he is. I ruminated on this for a few days. A simple example: after breaking my wrist, it will never be unbroken again. It will be healed and usable, thanks to surgery, modern medicine and time, but it will always be the wrist that was once broken.
When your life has been held captive by disease or trauma, the world still continues pressing forward. It does not pause for you. So many things you previously worked hard to accomplish have atrophied during that pause. If you are lucky to be a survivor, you are a remnant of who you were before, but you are also much more than your former self. You have to rebuild some parts from where you are now and now can take a long time. Now can be in this instant or it can be several months or years away, depending on your acceptance and actual realization of what is.
For example, now I see how painful it is. Now I understand (from a mother’s point of view) how it feels to be left behind, excluded, have parts of yourself lost. “you’re not strong enough to be back doing this yet,” a sympathetic school counselor says. “you missed out on too much of this class to be back there again, we’ll just put you in a different one”. So dismissive. Words thrown around carelessly (to one person), but carefully chosen (to another). But it is all true. You missed out, not because you chose to miss out, but it doesn’t matter. The outcome is the same. You missed out. Life put you on a different path. You had to pause for life, but it didn’t pause for you. Life is a vigorously flowing river. You have to move where the current takes you, but you can learn to be one with the energy.