I do it every day, several times a day, it’s one of the dances Marty and I do.
I reach under both of her arms, get a secure hold, make sure she is anchored with her right leg on the floor and use my prodigious frame to pull her to a standing position. Every day when I do it I manage to move her arm, her leg, her back in such a way she says, “Ouch.”
As I lead this dance I then ask, “What’s wrong?”
Marty then names the pain, names the location of the pain….”You hurt my leg,” “You hurt my arm.”
I say, “I’m sorry.”
She says, “That’s okay.” Every time, she says, that’s okay, every time she immediately forgives; grants grace and forgets the infraction, just like that, just that simple.
It never fails as I push Marty in her wheel chair down the hall and make the left turn into the kitchen I bang one of her legs into the wall. If not that wall then I find something else like a door, or the facing of the door or something else immovable.
It’s the same dance. Marty says, “Ouch,” and then names the pain.
I say I’m sorry, she says, every time, all of the time, “That’s okay,” instant grace, instant forgiveness.
To know Marty’s past is to understand this forgiving and forgetting nature is not natural for her. Before the strokes she did not suffer fools gladly or any other way, before the strokes if she suffered a slight she let you know she suffered the slight and she would remind you five years later about the slight. She didn’t necessarily hold a grudge; she gently massaged and nurtured it until it was time to reap the benefits.
That’s not the new normal. The new Marty lets it all go and has the grace and love to accept things, accept her life in a way that is really remarkable. It would be easy for her to complain, to turn to resentment, to live her life caged by anger at the tragedy of her life. She chooses to live otherwise.
She says doesn’t really have a choice. She says it’s not a matter of choosing, it’s simply a matter of living with what is. What she says is that being angry; being difficult would not make her life better or easier in any way. I say she makes a choice every day to life with acceptance and grace, I say she chooses to live with forgiveness every time I run her into a wall.
We don’t get to choose everything. The blessings and curses of our lives sometimes just happen, not based on what we did or didn’t do, they just happen, regardless of what we do. Our choice comes in how we adapt, how we accept, how we live in the life given each of us.
I marvel everyday at the way Marty lives her changed life and the simple grace that she embodies. You see it every day as she accepts what is her life today, as she is rolled from side to side to get dressed, as she is picked up and moved around to her wheel chair, as she takes what pills are provided, as she eats whatever is place before her, as she simply lives without complaint, remorse or self-pity.
Knowing Marty as I do, knowing and understanding who she was before, her ability to adapt and accept is nothing short of remarkable, her acceptance of my help is nothing short of miraculous. Caring for Marty with her willingness to simply say every day, every time, “That’s okay,” makes life a lot better for all of us.