Posted on April 1st, 2013
hen Peaches learned that her ankle was broken, she was furious.
I’m not sure what I thought her reaction would be. Sadness would have been an emotion with which I would have been more comfortable. Gentle weeping, punctuated by the occasional pitiful wince while the medical professionals wrapped her foot, is probably what I thought the public face of her injury would have been to the staff working in the ER.
I was wholly unprepared for loud, unapologetic fury.
There were mitigating factors. She was exhausted. Her ankle had to be splinted twice because she had not been adequately prepared for the heat she would feel on her leg as the plaster set, so the first one was cut off in a panic. By the time the final splint was affixed, it was 2:15 in the morning and she was anxious that the splint itself might burn her.
All the same, I was shell shocked by the rage she expressed continually and, really, somewhat comfortably throughout the second procedure.
“I don’t want a stupid cast!” she yelled. “It’s hot!” she hollered, and “I don’t understand!” even though she darn well did.
The next morning, while recounting her travails to her brother, she said laughingly told him that she’d “had a temper tantrum.”
And then, for the next two days, I watched Peaches struggle—with her crutches, with the unwanted attention that came from the injury, but mostly with the sudden unfair change in her circumstances. She was tentative in the mornings before school, complaining of a nebulous nervousness and maneuvering slowly and clumsily through the same old world she’d had beaten only two days before.
Tuesday afternoon, though, when I picked her up from school fully expecting to carry the same wrung-out little rag doll she’d been for the past two days prior, I found her changed yet again. Somehow, over the course of the day she’d shed the hesitancy in which she had wrapped herself. She emerged from the hallway at a respectable clip, swinging her foot as she came.
“Watch me go down the stairs,” she told me, changing course for one of the trickier exits to demonstrate her newfound skill.
It’s good that this happened to her now, people have said to me in the last week. She’s young. She’ll heal fast. And as I have spent the next several days trailing behind her, I have especially envied her the speed of her emotional recovery. I feel myself limping behind her at a distance, marveling at her return to hope and confidence, wondering at the secret to her rapidly mending heart, but strongly suspecting all the while that it might have been yelling at the time she felt it most called for that’s really moved her along.∗