I believe we are given moments of grace – just when we need them the most. When our hearts are sore, when we are afraid, when we don’t know which way to turn. Three days last week were moments of grace I desperately needed. And now, it is as if I have turned a corner, and while the path is not entirely clear, there are brilliant splashes of sunshine.
Matt and I reached Rosie’s in Mill City at 7:45 a.m., and we waited in the cool sunshine for it to open at 8:00 a.m. I settled myself on the deck, while he drove back to Portland to make it to work (mostly) on time.
Cookie and Darlene picked me up about 10:00 a.m., a hike up the Blue Pool trail on the McKenzie River was in the offing, and we were anxious to get started before the temperature climbed into the 90s.
It was a beautiful hike, and I was humbled as my two good friends took great care that I stay safe. Dar started in the lead, and was soon pointing out potential tripping hazards.
Tap with her hiking pole. “Rock,” she said quietly.
“Rock!” I yelled back to Cookie.
Tap, tap, tap.
“Rock! Root! Root!”
We hiked on, occasionally asking those coming down the trail how much further it was. It took two children to tell us the truth.
“It’s hot up there!”
“Yeah! It’s a long way up!”
Halfway up the trail, Cookie decided to stop and wait for Dar and me to reach the top and come back down. The sun was blazing through the trees and it would be hotter and steeper up ahead.
Covered in sweat and trail dust, Dar and I reached the waterfall and brilliant blue pool. It was beautiful, and I’m so glad we made it up there together.
We began the climb down, and I was acutely aware of how much my vision has deteriorated since climbing Black Butte in September 2017. I was so careful, though, using my poles to help compensate for my lack of depth perception and balance. Until, for a split second, I wasn’t.
Falling is a bone-chilling, terrifying event. As I saw the rock-strewn ground coming at me, I did everything I could to protect my face. I slowly caught my breath and dried my tears. Dar helped me sit up, and we assessed the damage. A bloody, swollen knee, scrapes, and bruises. Painful but fine. It was my right forearm and elbow, though, that had borne the brunt, and we were both afraid my arm was broken.
It was a slow, hot, painful descent as we met up with Cookie and made our way to urgent care. X-rays showed nothing broken, just badly bruised. A wrap and sling, and out we went to find dinner and tequila.
This latest fall shook me up – the swiftness, the damage done, and the fact that I have no idea why or how I fell. My blood pressure at urgent care was 93/65 when pain alone should have been enough to elevate it to normal. Maybe it was that. No idea. It would be good to know if only to lighten the months I’ve spent full of self-doubt and critical thoughts. That it’s ok, people fall, sometimes because of Parkinson’s, sometimes because of low blood pressure, and sometimes because it’s just an accident.
The effects of the fall slowed me down, but Cookie and I made our way around Sisters and Bend promoting the hike I’m trying to organize this summer. We left flyers and sponsorship packets, and talked about the hike on South Sister. Most everyone was excited to help, and I am hopeful this will work out!
Cookie, one of the most wonderful, gracious ladies I have ever met, held a happy hour get-together at her house on Wednesday. So that evening found nine of us gathered on the back deck, cooled by a passing thunderstorm, surrounded by her English country garden. A hodgepodge of salads, sandwiches, cookies, and wine was laid out as friends arrived, hugging our hellos, marveling at the passing of time. How quickly it flies by, and how suddenly it can stop, as if nothing exists outside of where we are at that moment.
We talked and laughed. Shared and listened. Planning our futures, remembering our pasts. And always a smile. A look. Eyes that said what our hearts were thinking. We are safe here. We are together here. And we will help each other.
I have been blessed with wonderful women who gather ‘round and help. My sorority, my sistahs in the hood, my Sisters yoga ladies, my boxing buddies … There are no longer sisters in the hood in Sisters. Three of us have moved away, one is about to … but I realized on the drive back to Rosie’s on Thursday afternoon, we don’t need a place. Our sisters are in our hearts. We will carry each other there forever.