Friday January 26th 2007, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

(Edited: Snapped a picture Saturday morning before I ran the ends in, after it was dry.)
I finished it! I can stop knitting. I finished the project I had to have done tomorrow, and it is lying blocking; I can’t get a good photo at dark o’clock of something that hasn’t dried yet, so imagine electric blue and purple with a touch of turquoisey teal thrown in, Cazadero Mist yarn from Royale Hare in Santa Rosa, CA. Gorgeous.

So now I can finally sit down and write about what happened yesterday. I haven’t driven for six months, but by now I’d been doing well enough long enough that it just felt like the right day to give it a cautious start. The Target store is maybe a mile and a half from home. Solo flight.

I can’t tell you how good it felt to be able to GO somewhere and still be alone, minding my own business. Much though I love my family, I was absolutely revelling in the freedom. You never thought buying a huge pack of bathroom tissue could be so much fun.

Going out to my car, I passed a young woman, maybe 18, sitting on the curb smoking, with a very sour look on her face. As I was reaching my car, a mom with two young girls looked at that pack of TP, me with my cane, and asked if she could help? I smiled, “Thank you; I think I can handle it,” feeling quite grateful that she’d been kind and had offered. A good example to her girls. Good for her!

I pulled out of that spot, thinking… Maybe… Pulled the car around so that I was coming back so as to be on the opposite side of the curb from the girl with the cigarette. No traffic to block; oh why not. I rolled the window down, and said to the girl, with an apology and a smile, that I had once been put on oxygen, when I was 27 (trying to make it sound like something she could relate to better than a gray-haired 48-year-old), and had been tethered to the hospital wall. Every time I see a kid smoking, I explained, it reminds me of that–I hope she didn’t mind my butting in…

Somehow in that instant she saw that I was saying this because how she did and how she felt were important to me. Her face became warm and kind, she thanked me for caring, and she put the cigarette down. I waved, and we parted friends.

What I never, ever, ever would have expected as a reaction!

The power of speaking to the truth of our experiences while feeling great love. At a time I was loving all the world because I was so thrilled with my freedom. And great credit to her for being not only receptive to that, but able to offer it back as well; she’s a good one.

I wonder now if she will think of that exchange every time the temptation to light up hits her, and if it will help. I very much think so. I very much think that’s why I felt I had to go drive somewhere yesterday. By myself.

And I never could have known, 21 years ago, that being hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning along with my family from a faulty stove, when I was four and a half months pregnant with my daughter who’s now in college, despite how traumatic it all was at the time, could, all these years later, turn around and help someone else’s daughter.

4 Comments so far
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First of all, way to go on a solo flight! That’s fantastic! How liberating it must have been!!!

Second, kudos to you for being caring and brave enough (in this litigious society) to say something to someone out of concern, rather than not saying anything and then regretting it later. That’s awesome!!

Jewels in your crown, sister!
Miss Knotty.

Comment by Miss Knotty 01.27.07 @ 10:18 pm

Thank you! It’s surprising how compelling something can be so much later. I had several doctors I did not know come into my hospital room and tell me my baby would be brain-damaged, my CO count had been so high, and did I…

…Just shut up. Sirs. Nobody ever promised me a perfect life.

And then my own OB told me that yes, she had lost brain cells. And no, I would never see it. I grabbed that hope and ran with it, and, he was right. But it was months of waiting to be able to hold her at birth, years of waiting with uneasy breath to see if she would learn to read on time–she did, and how!–all that anguished not-knowing, gradually finally giving way to, the kid’s fine. Blind in one eye from a cataract, possibly from the pure oxygen. Surgery for that. We got off easy.

But you can see how that inner image of having a mask over my face and tied to the tank inside the wall, so that I could not so much as reach down to pick up anything that fell off the hospital bed to the floor, all the memories of helpless anguish, could come suddenly spilling out at seeing a girl close to my daughter’s age sitting there smoking. But in a different form: one that knew the outcome, for us in our situation, at least. So that what was left after the fear was gone, was, simply, love.

And somehow, for that girl’s sake, it came out exactly right.

And for what I think that moment did for her, I would gladly, as a mother, had someone offered me the tradeoff outright, have sacrificed six months of my personal mobility. Extra years of life to watch her grandchildren grow up in? You absolutely betcha.

Comment by AlisonH 01.28.07 @ 12:17 am

Awesome story – and awesome woman for caring enough to take the chance on saying something like that to a stranger!

Comment by Knitnik 01.28.07 @ 7:23 am

[…] rightfully warns of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you go here, you’ll see why I’m so glad she brought it up.  Yesterday, a little too personally […]

Pingback by SpinDyeKnit 02.18.10 @ 11:49 pm

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