12 Years and 90 Seconds by Mary Statham
Twelve years ago, I went into emergency with vertigo and blurred vision and the most horrible headache I’d ever even imagined. A lot of my memories from that period of time are blurry, but I do remember an earnest young doctor looking at a picture of my skull and saying, “You are bleeding into your brain. You could die.” I was paralyzed on my left side, and I could only see shadows. My family was quietly told not to expect me to walk again, or remember them again, or even to live past six or seven more years. Fortunately, nobody told me what to expect, they just asked me to try. So I did.
But every April Fool’s Day, I find myself remembering that experience. I remember terror and delusions and helplessness. To combat those feelings, I spoke to Kerri and asked if my CRIS family would like to help me celebrate my continued existence. That’s how the group of us (including the rest of my family) ended up kayaking on the first Sunday in April, when the snow was still bright on the mountaintops, and the water turned toes blue. We had a beautiful day for a paddle, really. There was a little wind, but we didn’t have to fight anyone for the beach. I could smell the green of leaves about to bud, and hear birds gossiping about the crazy humans. My husband, Kelly, had never been in a kayak before; he has Cerebral Palsy and limited use of his left hand. The modified paddle made it possible for him to finally experience what I’ve been going on about all these years. Matthew has a fear of deep water, but being with CRIS means being with people you can trust implicitly. It was such a joy to share that day, that strange day when everything changed. The day when my heart stopped for 90 seconds.
I had to make my first steps on my own, but I make more and more steps with CRIS. I don’t believe in ‘best before’ dates for humans. I believe in finding more me to be, and I know without question that CRIS helps me do that.
So, thank you. Thank you everyone who volunteers, everyone who participates, everyone who donates, and everyone who cheers us on. This is what you support, this is what you make possible.