A few evenings ago, it was raining softly, the pavement sleek and glistening. My foot slid across a steel manhole cover. I lost my balance and slapped to the ground, hard. A tiny woman, bound in black, dropped her groceries and came to me at a run. I stared at her, incomprehensibly. "You must get up now," she stammered. "Let me help you up." She offered her hands. They seemed detached from her body but willing. I gave my head one long shake, gasped a breath and took her fingers in mine.
She offered to walk me to where I was going but thankfully the shock was fading, my wits were returning, albeit surreptitiously. I declined, thanking this stranger profusely for the kindness of connection. Of one human being looking out for the other. And then she was gone, disappeared into the veil of rain.
Again a breath, stronger this time, one that allowed me to take stock. My right knee was burning but my jeans weren't ripped, my right wrist was throbbing and there was a cut on my left palm...but that was it. No real damage. It was just a fall, finally. I fished for a tissue in my pocket and patted at the blood.
My favourite security guard at the grocery store greeted me with his usual elbow bump and reassuring smile. I don't know his name, nor he mine but over this past year we have grown to having a quick check-in upon seeing each other. In the worst of the first lockdown, to ward off fear, we would build up each other's confidence by saying, "We are still alive!" And yes we are, still. What grace, what gratitude lies within that now. Sometimes he will wink when he says it. Somehow there is an understanding between us. We both sense that we are, for different reasons, lucky.
Coffee, wine and cheese...the French necessities. I could not leave without them and began to limp slightly as I made my way home. It was not until the next morning, pausing on the steps up to my mezzanine, that a deep twinge made me rethink what it is to have health and how incredibly challenging it must be to live with physical pain on a regular basis.
"Thank you, my body."
It was a sort of prayer. Thank you for all that you have seen me through. When I have fallen to the floor from heartbreak, my heart/our heart did not stop to beat. I got up again. So while we may be delicate and capable of bruises, how too we can sing, readily with the sweet sap of spring. Arriving.