My job gets easier. Seth has no more wounds to dress, so I don't need to change the sheets every day. I still care for the pins on his external fixator two or three times a day (we've gone through over 1200 pieces of gauze and 400 Q-tips). He rarely needs help getting up hills in his wheelchair any more.
We look forward to Reubens and tacos on Thursdays in the cafeteria, eating out once or twice a week, and visits, cards, packages and phone calls. A good day for me is any day we leave the apartment; a good day for Seth is any day he feels up to leaving the apartment. We are both looking forward to coming home in two weeks.
In our five months together, we have learned a lot, such as:
- it's difficult for a 46-year-old woman and a 20-year-old boy to agree on a movie or TV show to watch
- a 20-year-old boy is less verbal than a 46-year-old woman
- as mom, I still can embarrass my son (see previous bullet)
- it is a hassle to go anywhere at any time of any day in the D.C. metro area
- dogs can make any day better (ever seen a service cat? Didn't think so)
- 4:30 is far too early for it to be dark
A Farewell from Afar
Almost five months ago, I made my first visit to the MATC. I was amazed and inspired by a young man I saw there working out vigorously on his own. He was a double-amputee, both above the knee, and he only had his thumb on one hand and his forefinger on the other. He lifted himself into and out of his wheelchair and could do virtually anything, all on his own. Since then, I have watched him from afar. He always worked out alone but had a ready smile for anyone who talked with him. I learned from Seth's therapist that his name is Aaron, and he has done everything from kayaking to hunting to downhill skiing.
Yesterday, I happened to be sitting nearby when Aaron finished his work-out and came to say good-bye to some of the physical therapists. From the conversation, I learned that it was Aaron's last day and that he was heading home after two years at Walter Reed. I never spoke to Aaron; I don't know his last name. I don't know what happened to him, where he lives or if he has family, a girlfriend or a wife. All I know is that his dedication and his smile inspired me every time I saw him. I think I was the only one who cried when he walked out of the MATC--and he had no idea. Someone has said that most of success is simply showing up. I would add that we never know when, by simply showing up, we might lift and inspire someone else.