my memory comes back in a thunder clap of color at the beginning of 1982 on one of many regular trips to Boston Children's to follow the progression of my quickly curving spine. At that point it had become so painful that a short car ride had become unbearable for me. i was thirteen and i was silent about it. i never told anyone of the sharp and throbbing pains that would grip and pull at my legs. i didn't complain. i didn't want to bring anymore attention than was necessary to the pretzel my little body was becoming. so i kept quiet on the three hour drive to the hospital. i let myself be hypnotized by the trance of pine trees whipping past. i lost my head in the thick, almost bullet proof station wagon windows.. by the reflections of reflections that froze for two breathless seconds before whirring downward and disappearing into the heavy car door. i closed my eyes when my folks squabbled up front over mom having spilled white wine as it pooled on the vinyl and slipped across the wide seat, seeping into my fathers ironed pants. they cursed each other but i heard nothing. i wasn't listening as they fought over parking.. only the exact location of where they finally agreed on registered in my mind.. just in case i needed to get back there on my own. and as we sat in the waiting room listening for my name to be called we three were all silent. we watched the other children.. much sicker than i, babies oddly quiet in their young mothers arms.. babies without voices or complaints.. we tried not to stare. i smiled shyly at the mothers.. foreign to me.. mothers in all colors, breast feeding their babies under faded blankets.
my real name was called..."kimberly crowley." x-rays were ordered, exams were performed, it was an afternoon of cold hands slipping over the knots of my body that were rarely seen and never touched. i kept quiet as the doctor explained to my parents that i would need surgery immediately or the complication of paralysis was probable. my parents broke down.. and like a movie reel starting up again, i cried along with them... finally.
watching the crumbling hope of my parents was my rope of emotion and i grabbed on for a few minutes and let myself feel their deep pain, which was also mine but i suppose i had been letting them keep it for me.