One Sunday last August, I crashed a Vespa on vacation in Florence. My tibia cracked just below the knee, right there on the dusty Tuscan roadside. After four days in the hospital, I had surgery. Four days after that, my husband and I finally flew home to Romania.
Home. Reunited with our children. Sleeping in our own almost-queen-size European bed. Watching dump trucks and horses whinny past our front window. Home.
But, really, the journey was still ahead of us.
Only two months into a yearlong assignment in Romania, I suddenly had an injury I knew very little about and a wildly uncertain prognosis. I couldn’t convey simple things to my doctor because the only Romanian words I had learned were from grocery store placards and restaurant menus. And critical medications with labels I couldn’t read lined our medicine shelf.
But that wasn’t the worst of it.
The worst part came about six weeks in. The kids were in bed. My husband sat watching a movie on his laptop and headphones. My dad, who had flown 6,000 miles to help us, was taking a shower. I rested on the couch, my bad leg strategically propped up by seven pillows. Gunshots and jet engines blared in some silly action movie on the television, and the baby started to cry.
I looked at the remote control on the other couch. I couldn’t reach it. I looked at the baby’s door. I couldn’t get up to open it and soothe him. I called for my husband. He didn’t hear me. I called for my dad. He didn’t hear me. I looked and called and looked and called, a little more desperate and despairing each time.
The television roared. The baby roared. So I roared, too. I punched the couch over and over, releasing 42 days of held-back emotion. Stress. Shock. Pain. Fear. Frustration. Grief. Anger. Oh, yes, anger.
All that I couldn’t express in words, I spit out in growls and screams and rage.
And then it was done, gone, over. My dad turned down the television. My husband coaxed the baby back to sleep. I melted into the cool, soft leather of the couch. Exhausted. Sweaty. Empty. Free. Oh, yes, free.
Free to actually feel.
To feel the jarring sharpness of my bones knitting themselves back together.
To accept the utter impotence of being physically incapable of caring for my own family.
To ache for the year abroad that we had imagined and then lost.
To begin, slowly, embracing the year we would have instead, step by tentative step.
Have you ever stifled emotions unintentionally? How did it feel when you finally let them go? And how do you cope with drastic changes in your life’s plan?
I have loved Stacia’s blog because of her intimate photos. I feel like I get a regular glimpse of the altared spaces in her life. It’s been particularly fun to watch as she decided which things to take to Romania and which things to leave behind. Then, after her leg broke, it’s been a welcome journey to listen, as she sifted through her life to find what was still whole.