It is humid as he tip-toes out of bed on the third story of his farmhouse. Harvest moonlight casts shadows on the wall. Floor creaks as his bare feet walk across the wooden beams.
He kisses his wife & puts the envelope on his pillow—still warm from where his head lay, sleepless. Bare feet tip-toe out the bedroom door, away from the bed where they laid side-by-side for over thirty years. Bare feet scuttle down the hallway, past the smiling children in faded photographs. They creak down the stairways, past the Thanksgiving table & the Christmas Tree corner; feet pause, lungs breathe it in.
Pain catches his breath, head in hands for a brief rest.
He hasn’t been the same since the accident. The pain has taken over. And now he’s made his choice.
Cold, hard metal meets his hand. And bare feet carry him across the dirt to the bed of his rusty old 1967 Ford.
Harvest moon & expanse of stars light the country night sky. Crickets chirp & blades of grass sway with the gentle breeze.
Small metal vessels loaded. Trigger cocked. Barrel to temple. Bare feet relaxed, pain free for the first time in months.
He closes his eyes, breathing in the last bit of late-summer refreshment.
The bare feet, naked body in the familiar bed of 1967 decides that life is greater than pain. That love wins to selfishness, commitment to contentment.
Cold metal is left with rust. And bare feet carry him across the dirt again, inside the screened porch, passing Christmas Tree corner & Thanksgiving table on the way to the creaking stairway. Bare feet carry him through the hallway of smiling children in faded photographs & toward the bed where his wife slept soundly, harvest moonlight casting shadows on the wall.
He kisses his wife & feels her warmth, “I love you”.
And five months later I hear his story between tears & sobs & unadulterated gratitude. Old 1967 still sits in the dirt, a cold reminder of the life of pain that once consumed him.
“I have a golf game to get to,” he says with a smile, “I’m playing my best par in years.”
I nod & wish him luck, careful to notice the limp that follows him out the door.
Some of us are scarred.
Most of us are scared.
Several make full recoveries; others none at all.
A number of us choose to rise above from the beginning.
A few learn to fly after we fall.
Still others walk with a limp.
The point, though, isn’t how we recover…it’s that we are walking at all.