Sometimes those who love us see more clearly what we need than we do. Today I write about one of those times. Today I write about fear, hope, and a bracelet that signified both. Today I write about gratitude. This month is the 10-year anniversary of the freak dancing accident that resulted in breaking both of my wrists, triple fracturing my right and double fracturing my left. That accident was in many ways both a blessing and a curse. I learned so much about myself and those I love. I learned that people would be there for me if I needed them. I learned I was safe to be helpless. I learned how to deal with the most excruciating pain I could imagine. I learned to slow down, to be kind to myself, to accept care, to ask for help. I didn’t learn these lessons easily, but I learned them.
Throughout the holiday season, I was working my way through splints, then casts, then braces with increasing levels of physical therapy. For homework, I was playing in a bowl of rice multiple times a day to reduce skin sensitivity and promote flexibility. I was opening and closing wooden clothespins, learning to touch my fingertips to my thumbs, and trying to relearn how to do simple tasks for myself, like feeding myself, brushing my teeth, dressing myself.
One day, my friend Miche Dreiling brought me a present. It was a small, square box. Inside was a delicate, red bracelet. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen. A bracelet! A bracelet? My skin was so sensitive I couldn’t imagine ever being able to wear a bracelet again. Even though this one was so delicate and small, it looked like a torture device to me. I know I looked at Miche confused. “Not for now”, she said. “For later… when you’re healed”. I closed the lid on the box and put the bracelet in a drawer in my hutch. I wondered if I would ever take it out. It became a symbol of fear and hope.
The day I decided I was ready to try to wear it finally came. I was apprehensive as my skin was still so sensitive, but it was time. Andrew helped me put it on. And though I could only wear it for a short time that day, I knew that sometime soon, I would be able to wear it for much longer periods. I knew that I would someday be able to wear all my treasured bracelets and rings whenever and for as long as I wished. That day wasn’t here yet, but it was coming. Today as I reflect 10 years later, I am wearing an iWatch, a wrap bracelet, and 5 rings on my hands. The moment I opened Miche’s gift, I doubted that this day would ever come. Now I don’t think about jewelry anymore. I wear it easily and without pain.
In all honesty, what at first felt like the most insensitive gift I could imagine became a talisman of hope as I embraced my healing and the belief that I would regain full function and capacity. I am grateful that Miche brought me this talisman of hope. I doubted the wisdom of this gift. In retrospect, it was just the gift I needed. I cherish that bracelet as a reminder that in fear, there can also be hope.