Last July Hannah broke her leg and both our lives changed. We had no idea how, but we had entered a new phase in our relationship. Let me give you a little back story to set the stage of what I experienced during her rehab.
Ever since our marriage on her dad’s Christmas tree farm in Penfield, New York some forty years ago, we have made a priority of our relationship. When we had preschoolers we’d always have Saturday morning breakfast dates. Often in early winter evenings, we sit in front of a fire with a glass of wine. We exercise together, be it running the five mile loop on the country roads around our house or hiking in the Mountain West or Appalachian Trail East. Intention and commitment were partners in our marriage.
When Hannah broke her leg water skiing, the strength of our connection was held up to the light of day. Never before having broken a bone or surgery, Hannah enrolled in Rehab 101 with months of daily tests and all-nighters. My role was to support her; I had a new dance to learn that I’d never danced before. Our lives were tossed in the air and changes were inevitable.
Clearly we were not going to Crater Lake in Oregon in August as planned. When traveling to Virginia to see our grandson Owen in late summer, we didn’t take our usual side trip to hike the trails in the Shenandoah National Park nor bike along the Potomac River. Becrutched, Hannah was taking three months of baby steps til her bone mended.
Then there were new jobs around the house for me. I changed the kitty litter, shopped for groceries at Demoula’s Market Basket, washed dishes, hung the laundry, and organized the recycling and took out the trash each Thursday. This change turned out to add meaning and purpose to my day. I would miss it when she returned to active duty.
Daily routines changed, too. We no longer drove to the Costal Fitness gym in nearby Kittery together to exercise. Walks which we would take two, three times per week were out. We no longer biked the country roads to the beach. These were adjustments, not sacrifices. We sucked it up, knowing recovery was in months, not years.
I massaged her left leg twice daily. (See my blog Dan Reports on Hannah’s Fractured Tibia Seven Weeks Later – September 15, 2012). Tending to Hannah after her ministering to so many of us gave me a chance to give back. With no hint of altruism, this silver lining had me massaging this beautiful woman’s leg week after week.
Occasionally people would ask how I was doing. I was doing as well as Hannah was doing. Our moods mirrored each other as she led our dance. Playing second fiddle and being part of the background, I liked seeing Hannah playing first violin in her orchestra of life. She often defers or can be forgotten. Navigating on crutches made her hard to miss.
Throughout, there was uncertainty. It was all new territory. We didn’t know for how long or what a healed Hannah would be able to really do. Being mindful (i.e., staying in the moment, the now), I had a technique to quiet such doubts. As Mark Twain said, I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened. Simple trust and faith stood by me throughout.
Until she’s walking and exercising as she once did, the Dan and Hannah journey continues. Paraphrasing My Way, made famous by Frank Sinatra (1969), I summarize my experience with a Paul Anka song. [This big ending works best if you sing the words not just skim read them. If you choose, find a room where you are alone.]
Changes I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exception.
It turns out, like many people, I just rolled with the changes and came out the other end better for the experience. As with most people, I just did what I had to do.