Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Grace in the snowfence

The day begins perfect, a last ski trip for the season. And we are excited.The lift beckons us up into glory, and the sun's warm caress promises a good day. The icy crust increases our speed, but I am too novice to be very concerned. I will just keep it where I can handle it. Nerves will quiet once the snow softens and I find my groove. This is just the beginning of the day. And that's when it falls apart. Too novice to know how to manage the crusty speed, I can't catch an edge turning on the traverse, and barrel over the mountain's side.
In the time it takes to say "Oh no!" I careen over the edge into the snowfence, where my skis tangle, and the rest of me hangs upside down on the steep decline. My right forearm flung in a bionic angle, and my first thought pierces through the pain, "Oh God! I can't work!"
Minutes float weightless, yet time seems to stall; and I'm caught in this sphere of spasmed sensation. I cry, and call for help, but know I will not be heard. Crusty snow is too loud and the hill too empty. And shock arrives and takes control. I have to climb up to find help. I coach myself aloud, and whimper in my pathetic state. Flop injured arm across body. Cry out pain. Pull foot out of boot. Insert stocking foot into crusted snow. Crawl under mangled snowfence. Pinch bindings to free other foot from the ski. Climb up to the ledge.
A thousand thoughts swirl into my mind, but find no resting place. Pain glazes every landing surface like a shellac, and locks my mind's attention on the throbbing issue at hand. And shock is a gift. 

I hear boarders whiz by, reverberating loud on the icy surface. I call for help and keep climbing up. One boarder stops, and comes back to help me. I crawl to the traverse edge, and sit crumpled in the snow, amazed at how pain can be so numbing, worried for all the borrowed equipment still down the precipice. He gathers the items, and I see my boyfriend skiing up the traverse towards me. My delayed arrival at the lift told him something was wrong, so he came back to find me. And I will be okay.

Ski patrol arrives, and I wish to pass out and be relieved from the pain. The toboggan ride down, the wait for the ambulance to arrive, while waves of embarrassment, shock, and gratitude wash over me. My mind reels ahead, to all the work calls I will have to make, to all the questions about how long before I can work again. But I am here, and can only deal with what happens here and now. And grace is enough for NOW.

So I ride in ambulance and inhale laughing gas. And I wait as throbbing turns to locked spasm. And I gasp pain to rotate my arm for X-rays. And the diagnosis "dislocation" sets my mind happy. It could have been so much worse.

And there's nothing to do but wait: for morphine to kick in, then to run its course out of my system, for the doctor to set the elbow, for the sedative to wear off, for me to stop shaking, for our friends to pick us up.

And I'm never alone. In this weakness and truncated state, I'm surrounded with love and mercy. And there's nothing to do but rest in it. 

And the gifts begin to flow: more than I can number. People stationed perfectly, who go out of their way to care for me, clients understanding and wishing me well while they wait for me to recover, filling in for the secretary at the office. Ah yes, and work is a gift, and time off is a gift. Several days to finally cross off lingering projects on the backburner list, and happiness to know life now has room for change.
It's a forced Sabbath; the best gift I could have asked for. I didn't know how much I needed it till it was given to me, wrapped in pain and a snowfence.

And I'm still counting the endless gits of this grace . . . .

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