COLUMNS

If I turn four corners can I get back to square one?

Candace Cooksey Fulton-ccfulton2002@yahoo.com
CANDACE COOKSEY FULTON

Wednesday, I ran into my friend Judy at the grocery store. Well, I don’t mean I literally ran into her. That should go without saying.

We’d missed seeing each other the last several Sundays at church, which is where we usually converse and catch up with one another, but she’d heard.

I was not sure of how much, or all that she heard, but she seemed glad and a little surprised (maybe) that I appeared to be upright, breathing, shopping (even) and able (obviously) to take nourishment.

“Yes, I’m fine,” I assured her, which was a truth-approaching statement. In a brave effort to be completely truthful, I added, “I have turned the corner.”

“But you’re OK?” Judy insisted on knowing.

So I repeated, “OK, yeah, I guess I am. I really have turned the corner. Three more corners and I’ll be back where I started.”

I laughed. Judy didn’t seem all that convinced. But we’ve been friends for a long, long time, so she sort of laughed and continued with her concern.

“The car?”

Then I knew, everybody knew. Judy, who lives in the boonies of northern Tom Green County, where the Internet can hardly reach and therefore isn’t on Facebook, had been included in the loop. An email must have gone out from our Sunday school class secretary who does a wonderful job of keeping us informed, no matter how many Sundays we miss or how discombobulated our various and sundry lives seem to get.

My car, I told Judy, had been totaled, but it was actually, mostly, going to be OK. The insurance settlement was decent – ample – I guess, and I am temporarily leasing a vehicle, and it’s all complicated and quite involved, but yes, it is going to be OK.

And I think, for the first time since I had the wreck (8 a.m. May 29, the day before the last day of school), I said all that I said without a quiver to my voice or the threat of a renegade tear at the corner of my eye.

Proof, I am happy to report, that what most everyone I had confided in told me has been spot on. It gets easier.

Easier, smeasier.

Every other day of the school year I’d made my triangular jaunt around San Angelo with little – if any – major incident or deviation to the route or the schedule. Pick up the granddaughter for school in one part of San Angelo; take her to school in another part; and return to my apartment before heading out to the Early Head Start toddler room where I volunteer four hours a day, five days a week. I wonder now if I was assuming that since there hadn’t been cross traffic at Irene and Roosevelt every other day of the school year, there wouldn’t be that Thursday either.

The witness told the policeman I stopped at the stop sign, but pulled out. The pickup with the right-of-way hit me. Hard. Hard enough for the airbag to deploy and sear my forearms; hard enough for the seatbelt to severely bruise my chest and abdomen; and hard enough for something – the gearshift knob, perhaps – to hit my leg and cause a baseball-size knot to form below my knee. Hard enough for me to wonder for a moment what in the world had happened. Then realize something pretty bad had.

For whatever reason, I began to immediately try and minimize the situation. I didn’t want my son to leave work and come get me. He did anyway. I didn’t want to go to the emergency room, and refused the ambulance ride, but my neighbor insisted I go, and took me.

But everything I tried to deny, or minimize, refused to be ignored or dismissed. Instead all of everything seemed to distort and grow bigger or get worse. I shut out friends who voiced concern. I just wanted to crawl inside of myself and make it all stop – or at least go away.

Still in the grand scheme of things, it could have been so, so, much worse. Bruises fade. Mine are. They mostly have. Cars can be replaced. Mine practically is. It will be.

One morning, just this week, I woke up and my ankle wasn’t swelled, and that dull pain didn’t push on my ribs. The knot on my calf had shrunk to more of a half-lemon-sized bump than a baseball. A notion of “it’s OK,” started to prevail.

Yep. I realized, I had turned a corner. My full sense of calm is likely lurking around the next. Like I told Judy, three more turns, and I’ll be back where I started.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, living now in San Angelo. She can be reached at ccfulton2002@yahoo.com.