Her blue eyes glaze over with tears when I ask her why she isn’t riding the roller coaster. She chokes up and then states that she’s actually disabled, pausing before she says the word disabled. I’m standing by the Six-Flags rollercoaster Superman, not riding, simply because I don’t ride rollercoasters that go upside down. She looks young what with her blonde curls and blue eyes and while she waits for her tween daughter to finish the ride, she confides in me that her spine is crushing into her pelvis, and that in a week she will be in a wheelchair. I’m surprised that she is telling me all this; I’m the person people gloss over – ancedotes they tell me, deeper secrets others get confided in.
She tells me that she doesn’t tell people she’s disabled, that she’s coming to terms with it still, and that she wants to still play tennis. Yes, she reiterates, she’ll try to play tennis even in her wheelchair. She appears as if she’s coming to terms and that talking about it is slowly easing her mind. I find myself nodding, and trying to listen as best as can, rather than filling in the pauses, and my listening is reassuring to her. She thanks me for listening, and with that her daughter arrives from the ride, flushed and happy, and together they walk away from me and out of my life. No one would ever guess the secret that I know, that in a week she will be in a wheelchair.
That was two weeks ago, so by now she is probably in her wheelchair, and I hope and pray that she finds peace, comes to terms with it, and plays lots of tennis.
A few images from my week below…