I awoke to the soft pitter patter of rain. Lifting the shade in a Cancun hotel room, I was greeted by a celestial palette of color. A morning shower had swiftly departed, leaving a radiant rainbow in its wake.
The morning stillness whispered a knowing to my soul that appearance of THIS rainbow, at THIS time was purposeful, not coincidental.
It was a harbinger of healing; the foreshadowing of a dam that would stop the river of incessant pain that had been an unwanted and recurrent presence in preceding weeks.
The memory of this Mexico morning resurfaced in response to an unexpected text from an old friend.
“How are your knees?”, she inquired.
I read her message, and searched my memory: “What the heck is she talking about?”
And then I remembered....
In early summer 2019, I slid to the edge of the bed, attempted to stand, and was stunned by my inability to do so. Pain coursed through my legs, so sharp in intensity, that my knees buckled. It was the start of an arduous journey of discomfort that rendered me unable to walk in the ensuing weeks.
My doctors had no answers. They said it may be arthritis and prescribed Motrin 800. Didn’t help!
They switched me to Meloxicam. Equally fruitless!
And what kind of diagnosis was that anyway? Arthritis that manifests overnight, rendering me nearly crippled?
I pushed back.
They ordered more tests, settled on “frayed meniscus tendon”, and said if the pain persisted, they’d consider a surgical option.
And so commenced my summer of limping.
I couldn’t walk upright, so I limped, hobbled, and hopped my way around. Walking is such an integral part of human existence, I didn’t appreciate the extent to which I took it for granted....until I lost it.
At summer’s end, I limped into an airport en route to Cancun, trailing my husband who rivaled a circus clown attempting to juggle luggage, carry-ons, and backpacks. I sat while he checked our bags, and was NOT amused when he returned with an attendant and a wheelchair.
But my annoyance was short lived! I discovered that setting aside pride in favor of humility can offer unforeseen collateral benefits.
There was a snaking TSA line. But people in wheelchairs received priority screening.
We had a layover with an interminable distance to our connecting flight. But I was wheeled with ease to the new boarding gate.
Upon arrival in Cancun, there was a two hour wait to pass customs. But because of the wheelchair, my wait was only 10 minutes.
The week that followed was filled with unexpected surprises. At checkin, our room was upgraded to ocean view. They had wheelchairs for mobility impaired guests, which simplified my navigation of the complex.
The staff overheard a conversation mentioning my husband’s birthday and surprised him—unsolicited—with a decorated room and personalized cake.
On the final morning, I tried to photograph the rainbow from our room, but was unable to get a clear picture because of the glare of the window.
I impulsively grabbed my iPhone, ran down the hall, and onto the veranda; ecstatic when I was able to secure BOTH still shots and video.
And then time stood still for a moment, as the magnitude of what transpired sank in.
I had run down the hall to take those pictures. RUN! After weeks of limping, After a vacation spent in a wheelchair, After a summer of recurrent pain, I ran!
Streams of gratitude flowed from my eyes as I re-entered the building and walked back to my room. Fully upright. No hopping. No limping. No pain.
And I still don’t know WHY. I still don’t know HOW. I still have no concrete explanation.
And here’s what’s wonderful: I've surrendered the need to know why or how.
I once lived a life of perceived certainty in which I was convinced I had sure and concrete answers to many of the mysteries of life. I now realize that much of what passed for certainty---was actually belief.
Belief and certainty are NOT the same thing. Realizing this, I’ve learned to surrender, and lean into mystery, at times when certainty is elusive.
“My knees are fine,” I typed in response to my friend, “They have been since last August.”