Four weeks ago, I had an accident that has left me with multiple broken and dislocated fingers, as well as a couple of hand sprains, affecting my dominant paw. Such events necessarily come with a quantity of learning opportunities and lessons delivered uninvited. Some are painful, others rays of sunlight through the storm clouds, the condition that gives rise to the magic of rainbows. And, like rainbows, these phenomena are facts, stripped of supposition. While the storm centers can be analysed to reveal how limited my friendships are–a broken toy is readily abandoned–the beams invite celebration:
- The London cabbie who offered nothing other than patience as we counted through what remained of my coins to make up the fare from Marleybone road to Paddington Station
- The Heathrow Express employee who came to the rescue with a magnetic strip enabled ticket device when the Tube strike’s removal of staffed ticketing booths had left me unable to purchase a ticket in the chip-and-pin only dispensers
- The barmaid at Heathrow who insisted on carrying my pint of cider and second of water to a table for me
Back home, an acquaintance who has long eschewed both me and her partner’s friendship with me willingly stepped up to cut my now-progious toe nails. A week later, another casual acquaintance responded graciously to the need for ten fingers with which to squeeze open the battery-chirping smoke alarm and insert a new battery.
In a larger view, getting along one-handed has been eased by years of observing how a variety of local folks with permanent physical challenges have managed opening jars, closing long zippers, and other seemingly small and daily chores that most of us typically bring either two mobile hands or more than six digits to resolve. Their modeling has been invaluable as I go about keeping house and self in my enforced solitude.
Another cadre of spectral glimmers are the shopkeepers in my daily life: the barista who asks about my pain level everyday, reminding me to check and contrast it with previous days, both post-injury and when I was whole; the haircutter who overcame her initial panic–what-would-I-do-if-this-happens-to-me–to joke with me; the staff at my place-of-resort who put my dinner together so that no knife is required; the postman who stacks arriving boxes of books inside my apartment, a suggestion I would never have thought to ask of anyone.
Four weeks. Lost friends. Flaming depression as well as physical pain. And, shot through all that, the wonder of the kindness of strangers. Thank you.