Dear Legs-That-Don't-Work,

It didn't really occur me to that it was "a big deal" until I started Kindergarten. At home it wasn't a big deal because I was accepted, and expected to crawl around on the floor or use my wheelchair. And in pre-school it wasn't a big deal because most of the other kids were in wheelchairs or used other mobility aides too.
The difference was apparent on that first day of school in Kindergarten when I noticed that this wasn't really the way things were supposed to be. More specifically, you weren't the way things were meant to be. It took a class filled with other screaming, singing, running, jumping, squirming, nose-picking, and jacket-struggling kids to make me realize: the two appendages below my hips were not the norm. And even more so, there was nothing I could do to get you to work the way you're supposed to.

Around that time I began learning how to walk. With the help of my parents or physical therapists I'd strap you into clunky leg braces, and like monkey-see monkey-do I'd try to mimic what I saw everyone else doing. I could tell that you didn't like it, and to be honest most of the time I didn't really like it at first either. In fact most of the time - during those early stages, I felt like the puppet master and you were my marionette dolls. Except mom and dad had already told me that my puppet would never come to life, it wasn't going to be like in Pinocchio when he springs to life. So I labored on because that's what the adults in our world said we had to do. I continued to learn which strings to pull, I learned until over the years we came to be as close to "Pinocchio-like" as we could. It took a lot of frustrating moments, lots of tantrums thrown, hundreds of sneakers, many more leg braces, fractures, and corrective surgeries before we got to a comfortable place - but the point is we got there together: now, unlike my four year-old self, I know that you do work the way you're supposed to.

I hope you know that I don't mean to hurt your feelings when I say things like "I'd rather break my legs than my arms." But it's the truth. And I hope you realize that even though my wheels have more or less replaced you these days, I don't ever take your presence for granted. The hundreds of fractures we've been through together have taught me more about rehab and healing than what most people learn in an entire lifetime. You're my silent option, my quiet reminder of hard work, of staying humble, of being appreciative, of persistence, of there always being an alternative way. 

At the airport you're the reason for the scan, for National Security to sound the alarms - and then everyone settles down when they realize you're just a harmless reminder that everything is not as it seems. "Just metal from the rods and screws in my legs.." And when my brothers began cracking their toes, you're the reason that told me that I can try too - successfully. In public bathrooms you're the reason why I can stand on the footplate of my chair, or else I'd never be tall enough to reach the sinks. When we're at the mall, you're far too tempting to not want to visit the shoe sale. Your quiet insistence that each pair of shoes I buy is a long-term if not life-long investment usually wins me over. In middle school you helped me grow tougher skin when kids pointed at the snaking scar tissue that traveled down the front of your face. Let's not forget about the Mickey Mouse roller-skates we risked our neck putting on. Or the victory we felt when we talked mom into letting us onto the ice rink!

Sometimes sitting on the sidelines while my friends ran laps in P.E. class made me feel guilty about you. There they were being tortured and hollered at "DON'T CUT THOSE CORNERS!" While we were just chilling in the shade, helping out by writing down times each time they ran past me. It was moments like those where you seemed to get heavy with guilt too, with a feeling of uselessness that I hated and resented you for harboring. Settling for second best is something you taught me how to do with grace, and only when no other choice is available. With that said you also taught me that giving up, no matter how bad or hopeless things look - is simply never an option. You might not be able to carry me around in life, but in too many more ways you're able to carry me through a lot!

...Needless to say, you and I - we've been through quite a bit. And there's no doubt in my mind that I would never trade any of those adventures together for a pair of legs-that-work! You're worth my time, attention, effort, sweat, and worry. Please don't walk out on me, okay? 

Posted in , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2011 Perfectly Imperfecta. Powered by Blogger.