"I don't hate you, we're still friends"

Before I begin -- I bet 9 out of 10 readers already knew what this post was going to be about just from the title.

When you're born with O.I. you learn quickly that fractures will happen regardless of how careful you are, or what you're doing (or not doing!) And your family members who take care of you, raise you, and live day in and day out along side you learn the same thing. Sometimes when I am describing O.I. to someone who is unfamiliar with it, I always wait for that moment when they try to understand the fragility my life can have. Their eyes widen, their face tilts back in shock, and for a few seconds they are speechless aside from a softly uttered "...oh my.." And in my attempt to dim the light on the 'horror' of my 'situation' I, as nonchalantly as possible, say "shit just happens.." with a shrug. Because really, at the end of the day, that's all I can say about it.
But when you're on the other side of the fence I imagine that there is nothing nonchalant about it. When you're 5, 9, 11, 17, or even 25 -- when your actions have some part in breaking a bone of your friend, I imagine that the explanation is not as simple to you as "..it just happens.." I know that it's not a simple explanation because I have watched my friends fret over "what I did.." And I have watched their faces turn into one of deep embarrassment and guilt when I roll into school the next day with a cast on my arm. I have read lengthy apology letters written in Crayola washable markers, passed to me in the middle of 7th grade science class: Sandy I am soooooooo sorry. I'll understand if you never want to talk to me ever ever ever again.. And no matter how many times I have said "it's okay, these things just happen.." or "I don't hate you, don't worry it was just an accident.." I am never able to lift the feelings of guilt, shame, or burden off of their shoulders. It doesn't matter how long I've known the friend or that they know about the O.I., or even how well I try to mask the pain from the injury -- it's always that same winded blow to the stomach face that they look at me with when they realize what has just happened, all in a matter of seconds. 

Why don't I ever get angry with them? Why have I not ever called them berating names afterwards? How come I never hang the incident over the head as blackmail? 
I think that in part this is because of how my parent's raised me; or more specifically, it's how they treated fractures before I ever began school or knew that 'friends' existed. Sure, my parents have been frustrated by the frequency of fractures that have occurred or just by the fact that their daughter is hurt -- but never angry. Or if they have been angry, I never knew anything about it. They have always treated fractures as something that happens "because you have O.I..", never blaming me, my brothers, or other family members for an injury. In turn, as I have gotten older -- I have rarely been angry about a fracture. My parents set the model for my behavior; the protocol for what to do includes much more than just "call the doctor, and get out an old splint.." I watch how they listen when I tell them "I think I broke.." and I watch as they listen to the doctor explain the x-ray. And I am still watching as they helped me put my shoe back on a foot that was in a cast for 6 months. Yes I have felt frustrated, sad, in pain, and even felt helpless about a broken bone but never angry. It seems that a broken bone happens so swiftly that in those seconds there is no time for any sense of injustice to have left its mark. And after the bone has been set and I've been put into a cast, there is no time to vent at the gods and give fate an earful about how angry I am that the incident happened. I am already focused on recovering, on healing, on hanging out with my friends at school and having fun.
The simple response: Because we're friends.

So maybe all of this is something my friends will never understand. For me, experience has taught me that people will continue to feel remorse, guilt, or embarrassment when they accidentally did something that results in a break. I understand that such a reaction is to be expected and is natural. I suppose all I can do is hope for the day that others will also understand that my own reaction to a fracture is just as natural as well.

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