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Breath & Shadow

Spring 2022 - Vol. 19, Issue 2

"Beginnings and Endings"

written by

Fay L. Loomis

My foot slips out from under me when I stand. Is there something on the bottom of my shoe? I sit back down, examine the sole. Nothing. Stand, foot slides away again. Panic seeps into my brain. A stroke?

Friends check me into ER, offer to keep vigil in the lobby. I know it will be a long wait. Precise knowledge comes from previous hospitalizations: three heart stents and a heart attack. Seven hours later, I am transferred to a hospital room, still no confirmed diagnosis, fear eating away any particle of courage.

After relieving myself in a portable potty, I crash into the side of the bed, stinging with pain. I am ashamed that I behave like Silly Putty. My roommate rats on me, and I am confined to bed arrest. The beginning of my imprisonment. Life changed forever.

Four years later, I walk without a device—a huge improvement. Nevertheless there is no end in sight for physical therapy twice a week and home exercise. Physical therapist Dan and I cheer a subtle change, after months of painful work to keep my hips level while shifting weight from leg to leg.

He outlines the next stages. One-legger, still holding hands. Final goal, a solo stand on one leg. To achieve this feat, I must visualize what it will feel like, internalize it in my body and psyche. Flashing thought: while I’m at it, put an end to anger and frustration toward this molasses journey.

Dan ends our session by reminding me that if I want to progress, I must do more. Choosing to maintain is OK, too.

Of course I want to progress, start anew. Do I want to keep up this unending regimen? No. I am caught between beginnings and endings, partway home.

Fay L. Loomis lives a particularly quiet life in the woods in Kerhonkson, New York. A member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers and Rat’s Ass Review Workshop, her poetry and prose have appeared most recently in Burrow, Amethyst Review, Bindweed, True Chili, Blue Pepper, Al-Khemica Poetica, Sledgehammer Lit, and Spillwords.

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