The Ides of March

March 15, 1999…20 years. 20. Damn. Years.

“Well, the Ides of March are come,” said Caesar; and the seer said to him softly: “Ay, they are come, but they are not gone.”

Previous to Bill’s rendering of Caesar’s demise, the Ides were simply the 15th or 13th of the month, but the soothsayer’s infamous words “Beware the Ides of March” have changed the meaning for us forever.

For me, the Ides of 1999 changed my life forever. Had I remembered the Bard’s words, had I trusted my gut, my “woman’s intuition”, had I waited an hour for the State to decide to close due to weather; perhaps things would have been different. Instead, in a split second, a future in genetic research, my goal of attaining my doctorate by the age of 30, a life spent far offshore, all was torn from my grasp as I sailed through the air to land, broken and crumpled in a heap, 30 feet from my twisted vehicle. I used to use the nickname “broken girl” – it stems from this very day. Folks say there must be a reason I’m here – a reason why I survived…I’ve tried to figure it out over the years, but if it’s happened already, no one’s told me. I used to think that maybe I’d discover a cure for cancer, maybe I’d give birth to a president, maybe I’d BE president. None of those things ever happened.

3 bones broken, 2 nerve bundles ripped out of my spinal cord, 2 months in a wheelchair, 7 months of physical therapy, 20 years with a left hand that doesn’t respond to the signals my brain tries to send it, 20 years of pain, of scars, of a not so funny little waddle due to a botched mending of my femur. 20 years of weight gain, loss of confidence, fears of falling, fears of failure, crushing debt, explanations of why I hold my drink funny and why I never went to grad school. 20 years of hiding my hand from people who don’t know – they say they never noticed (I’ve learned to hide it well). I don’t want to be a cripple, I don’t want to not be able to ski because my leg won’t cooperate, I don’t want to struggle to play guitar or knit or hammer a nail. I never wanted to figure out how to wear a wedding ring on a hand that doesn’t work…I just want to be me again, be whole again. I try not to whine about it. I try to put on the smiling face that everyone sees, but it’s not always that easy. I used to dread this day every year. I would want to crawl deep under the covers and not come out until the 16th….but alas, life doesn’t work that way. So I continue to drag my ass out of bed, look my reflection square in the eyes and hope we can get through the day together…however broken we may feel.

2, 3, 7, 13, 15, 16, 20, 30, 1999….numbers. I guess my number’s not up yet.

“Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings”

Original photo by Mike Anthony Catuira

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