Six months after my accident, my son started a new school. I knew nobody—truthfully, I wasn’t certain I knew myself yet inside this new body and new reality. My son was understandably nervous to make a change, but I was terrified. Many people who experience sudden disability say it shows you who your true friends are. They lose people. That never happened to me. Everyone I loved, showed up for me and my family. I didn’t want to meet anyone new. I was different now—obvious—a bit of a mystery, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to unravel all of that with strangers. And any parent can tell you that the drama within the social circles of the adults can sometimes rival that of the children. So to say the least, my anxiety was heightened as my son and I both found ourselves in new territory.
My biggest concern was my son. I didn’t want my injury to negatively affect the way he was percieved. I could have refused to take him to school; I could have refused to be seen. But I was determined to still be there for him and still be the mom I wanted to be. So I swallowed my anxiety and put myself out there. I was visible. I wanted parents and children to ask questions. I wanted to take away the mystery. I didn’t give people much of a chance to misunderstand me. And while I didn’t necessarily set out to make friends—the ultimate goals was to simply be seen through the disability as just another mom—that’s what happened.
These women—these families—among a few special others, have become our people. And it happened rather quickly. Three years later, it’s hard to believe I haven’t known them much longer. They have encouraged me to push the boundaries of this injury. They are the only reason I even attempted camping and as we wrapped up our second—officially annual—trip, I was thankful.
There is so much to be said about community—about real time, face-to-face, no judgement friendships. Relationships that don’t revolve around false pretences or arbitrary likes but instead around honesty, authenticity and support. People you can be yourself around. People who can see your kids at their very worst but still know them, care for them and be there for them because they know damn well their child isn’t perfect either. People you can rely on to grieve with you, laugh with you and show up for you when you need them. People you trust.
My life has taken many different turns since my accident and set me on paths I may never have been on otherwise—some good, some not. But I’m thankful for this one. I’m thankful for these families, the conversation that comes easily and the village we can all offer one another. But as much as I love them, two days camping is plenty—I need a shower!