The Value of Support

This is me, second from the left, with my friends and my air boot.

A few weeks ago, I had an unfortunate accident. It was a minor one, and a silly one, really, but it had consequences that have put me in a bit of a funk. What happened? I stubbed my pinky toe on the foot of my living room couch and fractured it. Yes, fractured it! It’s just another example of the kind of general clumsiness that I often exhibit. I seem to have a lack of awareness of my physical boundaries, and when I’m rushed or stressed it often results in some kind of injury.

My schedule is pretty busy, and so I remember staring at that fractured toe for awhile, even as it throbbed painfully. The way I saw it, I had a couple of options: I could just leave it and keep hobbling on through the rest of the day, ignoring the pain. It would no doubt feel better eventually. But as I continued to stare at that toe, now pointed out 45 degrees in the wrong direction, I knew deep down in my gut that it needed attention. It looked obviously broken.

I was still reluctant to take action, though. It would mean putting people out. Someone would have to drive me to the hospital, maybe even sit with me while I was there. The waiting would likely take hours, completely ruining the rest of the evening. The more people got dragged into this, the more unhappiness it would create. And all because of my clumsiness.

But when I showed my toe to my husband, Mike, he was decisive and uncomplaining. He got up right away, helped me into the car and drove me to the hospital. If COVID hadn’t changed the rules, he would’ve willingly sat with me in the waiting room and made an effort to entertain me as I stared despondently at my foot. I know he would have because throughout our marriage, he’s always been the strong one. I’ve never known him to grumble or gripe about anything, and there’s been plenty of things he could’ve griped about.

This whole situation got me thinking about support, and how important it is to each of us. None of us gets anywhere in life without someone to support us. The support could be financial. It could be emotional. It could even just be physical – the simple lending of hands when you’re about to move, the chopping and stirring when you’re trying to cook, the walking of the dog when you’re too sick to get off the couch.

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have had the support of many different people. I’m indebted to my parents for raising me up in the first place, to my aunts and uncles who kept their doors open, and lent me a shoulder to cry on in times of trouble. To my in-laws, who welcomed me into their home and supported me financially when I became ill. To my husband, of course. No words are sufficient to express the level of gratitude I feel towards him on a daily basis.

Over the long weekend, I travelled back home, to the small town where I grew up, and had the chance to visit with old friends. The joy I felt at reconnecting with these friendly, familiar faces was unbounded, and I realized just then how much they have supported me too. Not only do they show up for me each time I visit home, taking time out of their busy schedules to meet up, but they also provide emotional support. They make an effort to understand me, to offer their sympathy for whatever I’m going through, and most importantly, they’ve taught me how to dance in the rain.

Each of my friends have contended with a host of problems throughout their adult lives, among them spousal abuse, divorce, single motherhood, teen pregnancy, chronic anxiety, and even major heart surgery. I think it’s safe to say that none of us quite expected our lives turn out the way they did. It’s also safe to say that each of us have learned through these experiences what truly matters: friendship, humility, kindness, and that all-important ability to laugh, no matter what your circumstances. We do a lot of laughing.

And so, as I stare at the air boot that now protects my pinky toe, I see another example of the value of support. I know this boot will not heal me. I know that my foot will still hurt. I know that I will still find it difficult to walk, and half the summer will be gone before I can enjoy a good hike. There are no magical powers here.

But like all the other supports in my life, things have become infinitely easier because of it. Enveloped by its protection, I can actually walk without limping. I am protected from further injury. I continue to heal, and I heal more quickly. And as I consider the level of protection that surrounds both me and my foot, I understand what it all truly means. It means that, despite everything, even my clumsiness, I am loved.

About the author: Rebecca Wong has an honours degree in English Literature from the University of Waterloo, and has been working in the herbal business since 2000. She has received her training in acupuncture and herbalism from respected authorities Paul Des Rosiers and Vu Le at the Ontario College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Toronto, and Michael Tierra at the East West Herb School in California.

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