In Kelly’s Words – The Things I Miss
I have had a spinal cord injury (SCI) for nearly 15 years and I preach positivity. Both in my life and for others. I truly believe that I’ve been happy and fulfilled following my SCI because I’ve been able to focus on the positive and what I can do rather than what I can’t do.
But for this blog I thought it might be interesting to focus on some of the small things I do miss. And while I do recognize that most of them are pretty mundane, the feeling catches me every once in a while, and these exceptions I do think make the rule that I’m otherwise pretty content post-SCI.
To be honest, “walking” as a blanket activity is not something I miss. I push my wheelchair at a walking pace and generally occupy spaces that don’t present many barriers for me. For this I’m lucky. I don’t really feel a real reason to miss walking. But here is the nuance: I do miss certain types of walking.
One activity that I miss every fall (and the melancholy that inspired this blog) is walking through fallen leaves. Here in Vermont we have amazing foliage and vibrant colors. But when those leaves all fall there is a layer of crunchy leaves over the grass and side walks. Before I got hurt I would go out of my way to walk through leaves, feel their crunch under my feet, and kick them into the air in front of me. This is such a childish memory (even though I remember doing this at Middlebury College before my injury) but I love it and I miss it. Sometime I wheel my wheelchair through leaves but it’s definitely not the same.
I also miss walking on a sandy beach. Feeling the warm sand squish between my toes and the waves creep up the beach and wash over my feet. I don’t live close to a sandy beach so these are memories from vacations to warm places but they still remain. This summer we spent a long weekend in Nantucket and I desperately wanted to walk along the sandy beach. Sure I can sit on the beach in a beach chair or on a towel and swim in the ocean, but there is no equivalent replacement for walking through the sand.
When it comes to sports, soccer is something I miss. I loved soccer in high school and I continued to play intramural soccer in college with the ski team. In the years after my injury when I was still at Middlebury, watching my teammate play soccer was hard for me. I so badly wanted to be out there playing and there is no way to replicate that sport in a wheelchair for people with my injury level (though there is a robust power wheelchair soccer community for people with higher injuries). Next year we will sign Dylan up for soccer and I can already feel the desire to be out there with her practices or coaching her team. My plan is to be involved as possible but I’m not sure exactly what that will mean. Funny fact: when a ball comes rolling towards me I still have the instinct to kick it!
To return to the fall theme, I miss hiking. Especially now in the beautiful foliage of Vermont. I have so many memories of hiking with my family as a kid and I always loved it (at least that’s my memory!). I’ve been able to replicate hiking somewhat by using my off road handcycle (see my blog here from a couple years ago talking about hiking) but it’s not perfect. There are many hikes that I can’t do because they are too steep or the trails are too narrow for my bike to fit. Getting out on my off road handcycle and into the woods scratches the itch to hike, but I’m still envious when I see friends (or Zeke and our dog) out hiking.
After writing all of that I realize that this is exactly the type of blog that I don’t like to write! But I do think it’s important to recognize and come to terms with that fact that there are parts of life that are different and there are things that I miss. Rather than suppressing these and saying everything is always great, I think it’s important to recognize and acknowledge them in the moment but then move on. There is so much in my life that is great and there is so much that I can do. I truly believe that I can still do 99% of the things I did before my injury, albeit differently at times. I am honest with myself about the limitations of this attitude, but I also credit it with the fulfillment, happiness, and overall satisfaction I get from the important parts of life.