Holy Hill

Holy Hill church holy hill crutches

It is crazy to think that I spent 9 months out of this past year on crutches. Also, having spent 3 months of the prior year using crutches, that means that within the past two years, half of that time I have spent ambulating with the help of these metal tools. Many of the friends that I have made the past two years have spent more time with me on crutches than without. Some, still have not seen me able to walk on my own two feet. These crutches, these assistive devices, in many ways became entwined with my identity. Friends from school would affectionately remark that they could, “hear me coming,” as I made my way down halls and into and out of classrooms. I created a movement pattern of getting into and out of my car and how I would stash my crutches so as to make room for fellow passengers and also not restrict my back window. I became much more aware of how close or far I was able to park from buildings. I would literally plan my day around finding parking spots at school or in certain areas so that I could negotiate getting to and from places without having to crutch too far.

My methods for moving about in the world were also altered to accommodate the fact that when I was moving I did not have hands to carry objects; my hands were supporting my body weight on my crutches. I began using a shoulder bag with its straps around my neck as my “hands” so that I could carry things to use in front of me for cooking or without having to put a backpack on and off. My roommate at the time called this my, “kangaroo pouch.” I became pretty efficient and adept at navigating my life in this way and, perhaps inevitably, I became much less self conscious of the fact that I was using crutches. It was just a fact of my life and what others saw as a novelty or perhaps assumed was a short aid in a routine rehabilitation, actually became my norm.

The degree to which this was true, I think was most marked for me once I was finally able to wean off of using them about 3 months ago. I then spent about a month reflexively looking around for where I had set my crutches any time I would get up from sitting to prepare to move from one room to another or go outside. I was literally conditioned to use crutches as naturally as you move by walking within your every day life! Imagine that!

So, with that reflection on all that has transpired, I guess it is natural that I experienced some hesitance in how I would leave my crutches behind. In a very literal sense, what the heck was I going to do with these physical objects that had supported me for so long and on which I had so relied? I had no one to give them too. Donating them to a thrift store, felt only half right. I also had this fear in the back of my mind that I might need them again. How harsh would it be to get rid of them too soon only to find that I needed their support again. How do you move on from something like this…

This past weekend, I was able to make a symbolic journey to this church at Holy Hill to leave my crutches and cane behind for good. At this site is the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians. While I am not of the Christian faith, I felt that this particular place was a powerful symbolic place to visit and at which to leave behind my crutches that were so a  part of my life these past couple of years. The history of the church is such that people come here on pilgrimages to be healed or as a thanks or declaration of healing. Many climb the stairs to the church on Holy Hill to leave crutches and canes and reflect on their own spiritual and physical journeys to health. I felt that the significance of this act would be appropriate given the experiences that I’ve just described. I walked up the stairs with crutches and cane in hand and placed them at the front of the basilica. I walked down the hill empty handed, but at the same time stepping forward into a new stage of my journey.

Walking up those stairs was pretty powerful…and walking down empty handed, so freeing. Even though I imagined these moments of walking for so long, they are sweeter than I could ever picture in my head. The feeling of the ground beneath both feet and the fact that I can move without staggered gait or hand-held assistance is still pretty incredible to me. Truly, to think about it I am still amazed on a daily basis. What a gift to be here in this body and with these abilities. I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who helped me get to this point and everyone who made space for me to negotiate through this way of experiencing the world. Thank you for all of the rides and doors opened and carrying my things. Thank you for your kind gestures and words. I know I am stubborn and I know it was hard to get me to accept help. Thank you anyways; you should know that it meant so much to me even if I was unable to express it at the time.

With Love,

Leda

holy hill-stairs copyholy hill Leda and Jesse

Advertisements

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laughingteresa
    Apr 11, 2016 @ 21:17:37

    Thank you for sharing Leda! It’s an honor to witness your journey and to know that you are taking all you’re learning thorough this process and helping others. What a great way to symbolically move into a new phase of your journey. This “ritual” will carry with you for many years to come!

    Like

    Reply

  2. Leda
    May 03, 2016 @ 11:49:28

    Teresa, thank you so much for your continued love and support! It means more than you know! Yes, I am ever more hopeful that these experiences will turn into something that is useful to others and that makes me very happy 🙂

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: