Earlier this week, Dave the Wonder Repair Guy came to do some repairs on my wheelchair. While he was here, I asked him to take my old wheelchair back to the shop, where they could take the parts they could use and leave the rest for scrap. It's been standing unused in my storage room for coming up on two years, the seating in my new chair is so substantially different that I wouldn't be able to use the old one without extreme pain and although I'm halfway convinced that now that I've let go of it, I'll need it at the latest next Monday, I'm re-organizing my domicile and I need the room. It was perfectly logical to let her go. And yet, it broke my heart. Which is an overused cliché, but my heart ached and my stomach felt hollow and I'm pretty sure those symptoms qualify for the description.
I first got the chair in March, 1996, right after I’d moved into my own apartment. Yes, I didn't leave home until my early 30s, because finding an apartment with attendant care takes years and years of being on a waiting list. But I digress. This chair, my new chair, was as all-terrain as you could get and having moved to downtown where you go walk everywhere, I needed that kind of chair.
I had adventures in that chair, on my own and with my friends. It took me everywhere, travelling all over downtown, leaving home in the morning and coming back in time to make dinner. I’d go to the movies and walk ½ hour to get there, go shopping at the Eaton Center, have lunch with friends who worked downtown, go to live music events and come home late, hang by the water down at Harbourfront almost every day in the summer. Sometimes, I took the ferry to the
I can’t do that anymore. The travelling and the social life. My body can’t handle travelling much further than my immediate neighbourhood and most days, I don’t mind. Almost everything I need is here, after all - I have a different life now, one in which I spent a lot of time in front of the computer, writing. So my life looks different and I try my best to focus on what I can do, instead of the things I can't.
But seeing Dave the Wonder Repair Guy drive my old chair up the ramp into his truck and closing the doors felt like he was closing not just a chapter in my life, but closing the doors on the possibility of getting it back. I don't actually believe I'll ever get it back - at times, I am excrutiatingly realistic - but the chair seems to have been a symbol of the possibility. And maybe it's because loss and adapting to loss has been a general theme lately, some in my life, some in the lives of the people I love, but despite trying to logic my way through it, watching my old chair leave felt like my freedom, my wings leaving. And I found that I minded.
I minded very, very much.