“Alone in a Crowd” Hope Street: My Journey

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. ©2014[www.stockpholio.com] 7175511144_a Wheelchair

 

Note: Event Occurred in Fall 2007

I sit alone staring at the center piece. Christmas ornaments in fancy glass containers. Each center piece at over twenty tables is slightly different. Sitting alone is the last thing I expected.

Earlier today my daughters and I discussed tonight’s big event. “Mom, you know it’s going to be crowded. Dad’s expecting over 200 people. It will be pretty hard to push you around in the wheel chair.”

My other daughter adds, “We know you really want to see your friends. How about if we find a table where they can see you? Then they can come to you.”

At the time it made sense. But the plan isn’t working. I lift my eyes slightly to glance around the room again. Why do I keep doing this? I just feel worse. I see more people I know. Some I’ve known for over twenty years. Maybe they’re busy and will talk to me later.

My daughter serves me a delicious smelling turkey dinner and joins me.

“Mmmm, I love cranberry sauce. I hope there’s pumpkin pie for dessert,” I say.

“I’ll get you some when you’re ready. So, who did you get to talk to?”

Looking down at my plate, I mumble. “No one. No one’s come by…yet. Maybe later.”

“Oh mom. I know you were really looking forward to seeing your friends. Especially since you don’t get to Modesto often.”

Tears brim my eyes. One rolls down my cheek but not without my daughter’s notice. She leans towards me and gives me a hug. “I’ll stay and talk to you.”

“I’ll be okay. You have responsibilities. Just stop by later and bring me some pie …with whipping cream, of course.”

I flip through the program pretending to look interested. But I’m sad. One person did say hi when I arrived but quickly moved on. Where are my friends? Maybe they don’t know I’m here. But if I can see them, they can probably see me too.

Towards the end of the evening, one of my best friends sits next to me. “I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to talk to you yet. I’ve been helping with the raffle tickets. So, how are you?”

Someone finally talks to me. I’m overwhelmed with emotions.

At home my husband comments, “I’m glad you got to come tonight. People were so happy to see you.”

Surprised I ask, “Really? How do you know that?”

“They told me. They asked how you’re doing.”

“No one talked to me. Well, two people did. Do you think it’s because I’m in a wheelchair?”

My husband quietly contemplates my question. “Oh Sweetie,” he replies while handing me a tissue. “Sometimes people don’t know what to say.”

“But that’s all they really have to say. ‘I’m so sorry; I don’t know what to say.'”

“I know, I know.” He comforts me, handing me several more tissues. “I know you’re really hurt. I’m sure sorry, Sweetie.”

Note: I was in a wheelchair periodical from October 2012 through January 2013. I collapsed often. My legs would just give out. Rick was regularly carrying me. The wheelchair made me safer when we were out & about.

 

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