They say that pride goeth before a fall. I hereby share what goeth during a fall.
Walking is not really my gift. I don't do it very naturally. My left leg often requires much of my attention or it just forgets to come with me. With constant vigilance and a distaste for drawing attention to myself, I usually manage to appear somewhat normal. However occasionally, when things are going well, I forget to pay attention. It is of vital importance that I look straight down at the surface my feet don't seem to acknowledge, as this is the best way to make my brain aware of the fact that I am, in fact, walking on this surface. I eschew sneakers and other such "comfy" footwear, as the cushioning of the shoe only serves to further obstruct any attempts by my brain to understand the strange language that the nerves in my feet use to communicate their mysterious interpretation of the part of the world they are in contact with. It is absolutely necessary to constantly keep an eye on where these feet are wandering to. Under no circumstances and for no event or noise, for no stimuli either visual or aural may I turn my head. I forgot this.
A general rule of life, of course, is never try to attend to more tasks at once than is reasonable. On a Saturday, dressing a small boy and making him wear shoes outdoors and ushering him to the car in the snow should be enough to do at any given time. However, I suffer from the same disorder most mothers do, I can't walk by something that is undone. So while trying to accomplish the aforementioned tasks, I noticed the full trash bag sitting on the kitchen floor and the broken cardboard box and the empty juice box carton and decided to take them out to the trash before we departed.
A light snow began to fall this afternoon. It soon became a fluffy covering on everything. When temperatures are this far below freezing, snow seems to have no water content at all. It looks like Hollywood snow, light and shiny, made of soap flakes. It sticks to nothing, it is blown about by every small breeze, the brush of an arm clears it completely from the car windows. It conceals however, the very real danger that lurks beneath it - ice.
I headed out the door with trash bag in one hand, the old and torn cardboard box in another and was nearly down the stairs when the boy decided to follow me out. I turned my head, only briefly, to tell him to go back inside but I had already set my foot down off the stair, and not being aware at that moment, experienced the sudden confusion and panic that my feet flying out from underneath brings to my mind and my cardiovascular system.
It is true that as adrenaline pumps in a crisis, your mind and body speed up and time slows down. I am always amazed at the number of thoughts and escape plans I am able to consider, the options I am able to weigh, the decisions about falling I am able to make. However, in a situation of hands full, feet going out from under you in a forward direction, there is no chance to alter the angle or course of your descent. You are going down, and going down like a ton of bricks. My first thought was to make sure my head was upright, so as to avoid hitting it on the cement step. Had I not done that, I would be currently in a persistent vegetative state, unable to type and cursing the fact that I have not, in fact, made that "living will" and am unable to stop hasty family members from pulling the plug.
I have decided that should I ever become incapacitated in such a way, that I want any and all extraordinary measures taken to preserve whatever life may still flicker for as long as the state is willing to pay for it. I not only don't mind the thought of being a burden on society, I rather enjoy it. If I ever do enter a comatose state, the possibility could also exist that I am just taking a break from consciousness and may return to it at some later time, if not cut short by court order.
So first I determined as I went down to finally codify my desires should I survive. A second thought was that the five year old boy was not going to be much help if I was unconscious in a moment. Now, my daughter at that age could have called any number of people. She knew the phone numbers of at least four relatives and could have called any of them or 911 or even WorldVision to sponsor a starving child in Africa. She often called me at work to give me the 800 number to do just that. But she is a girl, girls are naturally drawn to the phone. The boy is not that interested in the phone. He may occasionally get on the phone when I call and tell me, "hahaha, I am Batman" and then hang up, raucously laughing at his own joke. Conversation on the phone does not appeal to him the way it did and still does to her. Suddenly, it struck me why women get so invested in a man's promise to phone, why they get so angry and hurt when he doesn't, and why he is baffled by this reaction. A brilliantly illuminated revelation that would be completely useless if I came out of this with the IQ of a gourd.
I also had time to curse my cheap nature as I thought of ice melt at $1.99 a bag, considered and passed over during my last trip to the store. I compared the possible $250 copay for an inpatient stay at the hospital and decided it was not a wise choice. I also realized I have not willed my children to anyone and this may be because no one has expressed an interest in taking them, and I can't really blame them. One of them can't even call 911, of what possible use are they?
Finally I landed. Pretty hard landing too. I sat there for a moment, assessing my status and determining that: a.) I was still alive , b.) I was going to be able to move, c.) I was going to be in a lot of pain and d.) I still had to take the trash to the shed. That is all that one needs to know to motivate one, so I got up off the ground, minus a fraction of the skin that used to adorn my forearm, with reddened palms and a slight sense of the headache the whiplash was going to cause to bloom. And I also had a few things to add to my "To Do" list.
Word Count: 1155