It is cold today. The wind whips and whirls around me, and I can feel it in my bones. Joints pop and groan as I move, and it sounds thunderous to me but no one notices. And suddenly I realize that it doesn’t hurt today. I stop for a moment and look back, surprised by how much progress I’ve made. I’ve walked much farther than I could before. I’ve moved.
Moving hasn’t always come easy for me. I’ll watch others walk up and down the street in the winter, across the icy surfaces and wonder how they glide along without pause. Without concern. Without fear. That’s not a luxury I have, because falling is a terrifying reality. Sometimes for me moving is shuffling. Sometimes it’s side stepping and sometimes it is just standing in one place, sitting and standing repeatedly. I never knew that moving was something I would lose. Something I would take for granted.
I saw an infographic this week that said 65 million adults care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member. And that 4 in 10 people spend an average of 24 hours a week caring for their loved ones. And the stark reality of being that statistic was tough to face. Especially because I’m not the caregiver – I’m the chronically ill, the disabled.
Sometimes I close my eyes and think about what it was like to be younger, with strong legs. Legs that could pump on a swing back and forth, back and forth – a rhythmic, calming motion that soothed my soul and calmed my heart. Legs that happily bicycled to and from friends houses, all over the city, wherever I wanted to go. Legs that sliced through the water like butter, making waves stride by stride with each stroke of my swimmer’s hands. All of these things I took for granted. All of these things I never knew I’d lose.
And now, someone spends his time caring for me. Devotedly backing in the driveway so I don’t have far to walk. Removing snow and salting the walkway extra carefully, just for me. Carrying things up the stairs. Preparing my heat therapy. Wrapping and unwrapping compression. Massaging lotions and potions into these sore, deformed legs. Shaving them too, only because it makes me feel better about myself. Painting my toenails so I’ll still feel pretty.
Hours. Hours that he’ll never get back, that he’ll never spend any other way. Hours that he spends caring for his disabled wife because of love. Because of his beautiful servant heart. Because it needs to be done so I can move.
As the wind whips around me and I see how far I’ve moved, how far I’ve walked, how much I’ve done – I’m so thankful. Thankful that God heals, and that each treatment brings me one step closer to freedom from mobility aids. Thankful that while He heals, He’s given me the precious gift of a loving husband who cares for me, even after he’s spent all day at work caring for others. Thankful that I can move more and have less pain than I did a few months ago. Thankful that the future is brighter than it was before.
I may never use a swing again. I may never bicycle around town. I may never be the same swimmer I once was. But I will be able to move. Slowly at first, and then with more momentum. One step in front of the other, again and again.
Because moving and mobility is more freeing and more beautiful than I ever could have imagined before. And it’s not something I ever want to take for granted again.