While Adrian and I were at an orchard party yesterday, I missed a step and took a header onto concrete. I lay there taking inventory, trying to figure out what body part hurt worst, and people rushed to my aid. I sat up and determined that my right foot had suffered the worst damage. A reflexologist immediately grabbed my ears and applied pressure in spots that help with pain. An emergency physician checked out my ankle, assured me that it wasn’t broken, and prevented a trip to the hospital. The host of the party brought an ace bandage and the physician’s wife, an emergency nurse, wrapped my foot in it. A neighbor brought arnica ointment and tablets, and I’m not exactly sure where the ibuprofen and a Ziploc bag full of ice came from. People helped me walk to a lawn-type recliner that they had placed in the sun for me (I was in shock and shaking), and they made me elevate my ankle and put ice on it.
As I lay on the recliner, I thought about the fact that we were completely out of hay, our goats had nothing to eat, and that I would be unable to go to the feed store after the party to get a couple bales of hay as I had planned. When I mentioned this, a woman I’d never met said that she needed to get a couple bales of hay for her goats, too, and offered to pick some up for me and bring them to our house. (Even here on rural Whidbey Island, it’s rare to be at a party with someone who also has goats, much less someone who has also run out of hay and was also headed to the feed store to get exactly the same thing you were planning to get after the party.)
My fall could’ve been an accident, carelessness, or dumb luck, but if this experience had a message in it, I wanted to hear it. I had literally missed a step. Might that be a metaphor for missing a step in real life? Had I overlooked something? Or maybe I just need to slow down.
Today, I thought of the friends, acquaintances, and strangers who had cared for me and how completely and instantaneously supported I felt. Tears came to my eyes, and I realized that that was the message: shit will happen, but you will get through it with the help of your community.
My foot hurts, but I can walk, and I have learned that I don’t always have to walk alone.