My Wisdom From the Couch

As the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, I sat with Barry and a small group of friends in our living room and offered a sincere prayer to grow, open my heart fully and learn in this upcoming year. I wanted to be prepared spiritually, emotionally and physically for the year 2000. I perhaps have never dared to ask so deeply and fully to learn my lessons.

Less than two weeks later, on January 13, I was carrying our twenty-pound cat, Sam, down our stairs from his newest hiding place in our bedroom. I slipped and, rather than drop Sam and grab the railing, my mothering instinct held onto the cat and we both crashed down on my right foot. I screamed out in agony and the family all rushed to my side. It took me a few seconds to glance at my deformed ankle and lower leg and realize that my life would totally change. Amid the most intense pain and uncontrollable shaking I have ever experienced, my fears quickly emerged:

“I’ll never walk again.
How could I survive without exercise.
I’ll probably gain thirty pounds.
I won’t be able to continue working with Barry.
I’ll be a burden on the family.”

My fear and grief spilled out as huge tears rolled down my cheeks. Our three children held me like a little girl while Barry made arrangements to take me to an emergency room.

Our two dear friends, Bobbi and Karl, met us at the emergency room and waited with Barry, Rami and me for three hours until I could be seen. Unmedicated, sitting in a wheelchair with an icepack around my ankle, the pain would drown me in unbearable waves. I felt like I had entered a nightmare from which I could not escape. It was in this time that Bobbi, Karl, Barry and Rami reminded me of my prayer and of the amazing growth an unfortunate experience like this can offer. In my pain I clung to the seemingly remote hope that possibly something good could come of this suffering.

The x-rays brought grim but expected news. My lower leg and ankle were broken in three places. I would need surgery the next day.

In that split-second slip on the stairs, my life went from cruising along at fifty-five miles per hour, a moderately fast pace, to going one mile per hour. I was mostly confined to a couch or bed with my leg elevated.

As I write this, one month after my accident, the pain has continued especially in the evenings and nights. The experience of pain and helplessness has been one of the hardest of my life, but I have gained gifts and wisdom. I want to share with you my “wisdom from the couch.”

Never have I realized how important love is in healing. The ability to receive love from others is probably one of the most important qualities we can develop. In fully receiving another person’s love and help, we are in fact giving our love in the highest way.

The work of forgiveness, forgiving others, forgiving ourselves and asking for forgiveness from others when needed, is perhaps the most important work we can do in this life. Although we may know this, when we go about our lives at a fast pace it is so easy to forget and get side-tracked. When life slows to one mile per hour, every tiny lack of forgiveness of others or ourselves rises fully to the surface. Staying clear in all of our relationships and genuinely loving ourselves is the work for a healthy fulfilling life.

This time of healing has not been easy for me. It has been a huge challenge, and yet I have learned and grown in ways I never thought possible. I know I am emerging a more loving and compassionate person as a result of this suffering in my life.

Barry has been so wonderful to me, helping and serving me with a profound love and caring. Our three children and my elderly parents, as well as beautiful friends, have lovingly rushed to my aid. In times of crises our material possessions give us little comfort. It is the love we share with others that sustains and strengthens us, and remains our true wealth in this life.

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