I don’t have scars from my bike wreck any more, theres nothing but smooth skin and normal legs. My body feels removed from the day, my memory has moved on.
My cactus outside grows and droops along the ground, the cuts and bruises of traveling and moving are a thing of the past. It grows outward and up now, taking in every ounce of sunlight and water, emerging from a dark soil into the light and cold breaths of winter air.
I wonder how many passing neighbors it endured, how many quiet comments of support whispered under the breath of night. I wonder how many cups of tea, how many bottles of water were poured into its soil. How many words of a song floated out from above. How much of the three years here has it picked up? How much of the days and nights has it absorbed into its structure?
My mom went into surgery this morning. She had told us about it coming up, it slid through my mind as a passing thought. A routine thing for a routine purpose. It was knee surgery. On Wednesday it hit me, I remembered what she had said. I thought about all the things that could go wrong for a routine surgery. I wondered how I would react. Probably overwhelming fear that something would go wrong, an overwhelming fear thats part of my DNA at this point. That the worst will happen. I wondered if she thought that too.
It takes a village to heal. That feels more apparent as time goes on. It takes love and compassion, anger and tears, it takes the support of friends and the stubbornness of family. A passing comment of a local barista, a “how have you been” from the person at the bakery. A late night twitter post, a long bike ride, days walking across the creek, water soaking into your rolled up jeans.
I use to think we were all like my cactus. Stubborn and resilient, able to grow in any condition. Living for the summers, retreating in the cold. I think i’ve misunderstood my plant.
My brother cried on my shoulder the other night. The weight of the world and a terrible breakup pressing down on him. I could feel the heaviness of his voice. Of his body pressed against mine. The words that rang out, that question that lingered in his words. “Will I be ok?” “can I make it through this?” “what if I don’t?”
When we were young he would lock himself in his room after school, sad and distraught at his sexuality in conflict with a society around him I assume. Lonely and afraid. I would sit outside the door sometimes, with the weight on my shoulders. The question of how to heal something broken, how to mend a body and mind alone.
I’ve made a terrible mistake, I’ve misunderstood my plants fundamentally. Missed the passing songs, the caught smiles, the dripping of water from the plants above.
I remember sitting on our deck one night, watching the stars. Pitch lack with a meteor shower above. My older brother playing guitar softly. We were never good at small talk together, but with something to watch and the silence of the night we could just sit there together. Each embracing the stillness, only broken by a flash of green light that streaked across the sky. The strum of a guitar. The crickets chirp.
My father sends a text to us all. “Everything’s fine in recovery” a breath of relief for everyone I assume. The process of healing can begin.
I’ve never been good at healing. Even now I use other peoples stories to avoid talking about my own. I was never any good at addressing myself. I was never good at eating healthy, taking a mental health day. Never any good at resetting and addressing who I am and what I want. Never good at recovery. After I was hit I wanted to just get back up, walk around and ignore the pain. My ex once told me “You’re not being honest about what you want.” It’s taken me the last 5 years or so to grudgingly accept that.
My brother seems to be healing now. Moving through the world and rediscovering the things he loves and wants. He seems to be moving further from that night, further from the hurt and the pain. Slowly emerging from that dark place to some light. I wonder how long it will take for him to heal fully. How many nights, how many conversations with friends, trips to California, new jobs and goals.
I’ve healed more in the last 3 years then ever before in my life. Embracing the people around me who want to help. Telling myself what I want, pursuing the things that bring me joy. I’ve grown my hair out, and lost weight, i’ve biked to work every day for 2 years straight. I’ve pushed myself to admit when I was wrong, to apologize for the things i’ve done wrong. To forgive those that upset me. To embrace discomfort and use it to become better. To stop running from fights.
It takes a village to heal. It seems absurd I hadn’t known this until now, it seems absurd I thought of life in terms of personal strength and individual growth. Growth is linked to those around you, to the people in your life propping you up and bringing you down. The last 2 years have felt like a constant re understanding of healing. A reemerging of what it means to grow as a community. Of the work required by everyone involved to make things better. Of the understanding that we can’t do it alone.
My mom send us a text.
“Love to hear it! how are you feeling!?”
”Hows the knee feel?”
“So far so good but full of pain meds still.”
“On my way home”