I’d fallen once before, so I was very conscious of getting my hands in front of me. Good, I thought, I’ve broken my fall. But my head had momentum, and I couldn't stop it. My cheekbone hit, but not heavily like fifteen years ago when I landed flat on my nose, teeth, and chin.
Two women helped me up and made sure I was okay. And I was, sort of. I’d been in high spirits just before that one false step, laughing at the antics of a little dog being walked by one of the women now helping me. I got up, not quite as quickly as I intended. I took stock.
My hands stung; they were full of tiny cuts from the devilishly jagged bits of gravel embedded in the walking path. I knew I’d have bruises on my face, hip, and shoulder. I didn’t know yet about the pulled something-or-other near my ribcage, but for the next two weeks it would stab me every time I sneezed, and occasionally it would cause me to blurt out a four-letter word. Since I didn’t know about that yet, I mostly worried about the bruise on my face, which turned out to be minimal.
I walked back to my car and drove to the fish-and-chips shop to pick up dinner. It felt like the “plucky” thing to do, although I tried to shield my hands, which didn’t look very appropriate to be in a place where food was served.
From that fall, I learned three things I’d rather not know.
- Crushed rock used in paving projects is razor-sharp and jagged, and bears no resemblance to the friendly rounded pebbles fished out of stream beds for use in, say, playgrounds.
- No good deed goes unpunished (okay, I’ve been saying this for a while). I was, after all, trying to get stronger and healthier by walking that path.
- I have reached an age, or perhaps a state of mind and body, at which falling makes me older. I didn’t feel embarrassed; I felt vulnerable and old. When you feel that way, it’s easy to act that way. My cuts and bruises have healed, but it has taken a while to get my confidence back. This is complicated by that fact that there is always something else that can go wrong…but that’s a topic for another day.
Still, I am reminded every day that I have a great life and that it would be ridiculous to waste it worrying about the small stuff. I’m starting again on efforts to get stronger and healthier. But I’ll be doing that indoors for a while. I don’t do winter.