It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out — no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

~ William Stafford, U.S. Poet Laureate

I love this poem. Several weeks ago, I opened our front door and smiled. “It could happen anytime”—a black walnut was snuggled halfway up a post dressed in evergreen roping. This “bonus” of the moment sent my eyes searching for the gray fur that craftily and artfully placed it there.

Yes, it could happen at any time. Two weeks ago—around 8 pm—I fell. I was outside, rearranging a holiday decoration and lights that had been blown to the ground by some strong winds. Just finishing, I turned around and was distracted by a barking dog. In darkness, I moved to see what was happening and forgot to look where my feet were.

The next thing I knew, I was on the ground, face-first, after sliding on both wrists and hitting my forehead. I had tripped over a landscape stone. One minute I was fine, and, in the next moment, my entire world was dramatically changed. I thought about people who lose their limbs—or functionality of them—from accidents or defense maneuvers—all in a split second. I would recover. But, for some, recovery was not to be. And those who live with chronic pain; by comparison, my suffering would be short-lived.

The ER—a bonus of local, expedient, and excellent care—provided a CT scan for the goose egg on my forehead and six carefully positioned wrist x-rays that were sent to an orthopedic surgeon. For the first time, I cried.

Five days later, I saw the x-rays of the fractured large bone of each wrist. I sported purple casts—remembering When I Grow Old, I’ll Wear Purple—of course I would do things my way. My fate: four to five weeks of slowing down, adaptation, and, thankfully, no surgery.

At first, it was simple survival. I am so very grateful for my husband, who has done—and continues to do—EVERYTHING!! This was the true bonus. I’m just now starting to hold a spoon and a toothbrush, toddler-style, as well as hunt and peck on my computer keyboard. Family and friends have been so supportive—one of them even packed away our holiday decorations.

As the days continued—it could happen at any time—my somewhat accepting outlook began to give way to frustration, crabbiness, pushing myself (dually noted by both wrists), and intermittent anger. I recognized impermanence and had helped others navigate the meandering maze of unexpected experiences. This adventure wasn’t unique to me—yet, ego continued to frame my thoughts. “This is about you and it’s devastating.”

My accident couldn’t have happened at a more inopportune time. Are accidents ever convenient? Momentum was building. Advocates and I were in the middle of championing the new MN End-of-Life Options Act for the upcoming 2024 MN legislative session; my loss, death, and dying information sessions were beginning to attract more people; and I was connecting with organizations to schedule talks. Oooh! Ouch! Double ouch! The perceived loss.

There had been a time when I would have initiated a full-blown pity party: wailing, pillow thumping, and journaling, complete with expletives. A way to alleviate frustration. An embarrassing scene. A denial of perfection beneath all circumstances. Investing in the drama kept me attached.

Impermanence is with me daily whether I like it or not. Everything changes and nothing lasts forever. I’ve had plenty of time to think about this. Yielding to an old pattern of resisting change, I was shocked at how desperately I wanted to remain in control. I thought I would handle my humanness more gracefully. More to the point—humiliating to admit—I believed I could dodge adversity. Those thoughts stayed with me for what seemed like another week, as I continued to see nothing but loss. What happened next was monumental.

During meditation, a time of “being,” I imagined stillness and silence encouraging a softer heart toward radical change. I entrusted my circumstances to Source and waited. Several days passed. Nothing. Then one morning in the early hours before dawn, I awoke to a steady, white light in my mind’s eye. I sensed a knowing—different from and more subtle than any I had experienced. “All is well” came to me. Although familiar to my mind, this expression now carried deeper meaning. The words had made the 18” pilgrimage to my heart. Amplified by elegance, efficiency, and expansion—characteristics of Source—the phrase moved me to tears. I felt calm, spaciousness, and deeply loved.

Like the squirrel with black walnuts—I could hide my thoughts about impermanence; return to them later to move them to a more distant crevice of my brain; or forget them entirely, chuckling because only 25% of all hidden winter vittles are recovered. Instead, I choose the present moment and feel appreciation for all that is around me. Releasing burdened thoughts, I am grateful for the reminder of a more balanced approach to change. All is truly well.

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