While the significance of my accident has not diminished with the passing years, it seems marking the day itself, October 16, becomes less and less important. What is important is acknowledging all the strangers, friends, and family who have supported me the last six years. I am filled with love and gratitude; co-existing with many many other mixed emotions.
It is good to process and re-contextualize life-altering, demarcating days. A friend put it well when she explained why she no longer marked the day her best friend died:
“When I was in 5th grade one of my best friends died. There was before April 8th, and every April 8th afterwards for a long time, until it became less important to mark that day not because I missed her less or that day didn’t wake me up to mortality or how rotten people can be around things like death, but because I remember her and think about mortality and in different ways now and I’m glad that date has shifted for me.”
In my mind, there is still a bit of a “Before Accident” and “After Accident” divide. But this divider, even barrier, has blurred and become to come down over the years. That being said, my plan of climbing that day was thwarted with two Emergency Room visits and a hospital admission (again). Even a nurse recognized me during a procedure I had to undergo, because of the renal failure/septic shock episode from the summer! It really is not good to be memorable to hospital staff in that way! I joked with the nurse that we needed to stop meeting each other in this manner.
The cause for my distress were abdominal complications due to my Spinal Cord Injury. After an overnight stay of highly uncomfortable proportions, it was fortunate to learn that there was nothing more serious. However, I have to be more vigilant about managing another issue, which is a bit depressing. I was completely drained from this hospital experience, and unsure whether I would have recuperated enough to go on a climbing trip just a few days later. I am certainly not fully recovered but fuck it, I am going anyway!! So I am writing to you on a plane en route to Salt Lake City.
While I had really wanted to go to Indian Creek, my friend injured her finger. Thus, we will likely be climbing in Idaho and around Salt Lake City. The last time I climbed with this friend was in Yosemite, one week before my accident.
I think this trip will recharge me in a much needed way, even if we are not climbing the most difficult routes. Just being outside with good company is enough for me right now.