How do you like this tree? At first glance, it seems to be toppled over and starved to death. It seems to have been been bleaching in the sun for decades. But a closer look shows that one portion is not merely hanging on to life, but it is covered in vigorous flowers. It seems to be thriving in the worst possible circumstances. I love this.
When Robb was first home after his long stay in the hospital, we both tried to have a life that was as much like our "normal" life as possible. Was this optimistic, or merely foolhardy? I guess that depends on who you ask.
I suppose our early trips out into nature might have seemed a bit pathetic. In some cases, Robb walked a very short distance to a bench, and after a rather short time outside, we went home so that he could lay down.
But what's the alternative? Staying home and sulking?
Four months after his accident, in late spring of 2006, Robb and I drove up to Mount Diablo, where he had an abortive attempt at walking in the woods. I really don't know what we were thinking, since it was only two months before that Robb had been unable to get around without a walker. I remember that day on Diablo vividly. The nicest memory was encountering a coyote (who clearly owned the place). The worst part was how frustrating it was for Robb to try to walk on the uneven trail surfaces. He sat at a picnic table while I looked for letterboxes, and burned off a lot of nervous energy.
Last Sunday, I had made plans to meet some friends (and friends of friends), on Mount Diablo. Robb was very hesitant about going at all, no doubt based on the lousy time he had last time. I wouldn't take no for an answer, so we packed a picnic, picked up Cricket, and headed up the mountain to meet Sheri and company.
Robb and I have settled into a bit of a routine with outings like this. He does as much as he can, and then retires for a lie-down in our car while I carry on without him. I always feel like a jerk for leaving him alone, but he assures me that he doesn't mind.
So after our picnic, we left Robb at the car and went exploring the part of Mount Diablo known as Rock City. We scrambled all over the rocks, and generally had a great time goofing around in nature.
And then my cell phone rang.
It was Robb, who had gotten bored and decided to try a bit of walking. When he told me which trail he was on, I assumed that he had struggled his way to the start of the trail, and would take forever to meet up with us. So I left my crew, and headed back to the parking lot.
I back-tracked figuring that I had somehow blown past Robb on some side-trail. I passed my friends and headed up the trail, expecting to run into Robb any second. When I finally found him, Robb totally amazed me by the amount of terrain he had covered.
He said that this walk reminded him of a day at the hospital, where he and the therapist went out on the patio to practice walking. There was some magic about having the sun and wind on his face that day, and he walked better than he ever had.
And likewise, on Sunday, Robb actually went hiking.
(We won't discuss how his legs feel today. We'll just celebrate the beautiful Sunday spent traversing a mountainside in California.)