So low that down is up

Without darkness nothing comes to birth As without light nothing flowers quote by May Sarton poster by Bergen and Associates Therapy

I don’t remember where I heard this line, but I heard it a very loooong time ago, and it stuck with me. I’m thinking of it particularly today, being December 21st, the shortest day of the year. I am a sunshine lover, and crave the brightness and the warmth that the sun brings…so the fall months have a note of melancholy about them as everyday a few more moments of light is robbed from us. So today, the day with the least amount of light in the year, is one that is welcome to me…because this is as low as we go…after this the days get longer, bit by bit.

I remember when I was a young graduate and worked in a rehab unit…I was walking by a room when I saw a gentleman who had had a rather severe stroke on the floor. He had fallen while attempting to stand up long enough to pull up his pants. I was filled with alarm and shouted for the nurse to come. I raced in, ready to haul that fellow up. He was over six feet and built like a Mac truck, so I was just breathing deep ready to lift when the nurse (much more experienced than I at the time!) came in.

(…like me trying to lift him would have worked for anybody except the physiotherapist who would have been paid to treat me!)

And in a lilting, calm voice, she said something like, “Oh, Mr. Smith, I see you’ve taken a bit of a tumble. That musta been quite a shock.” She added to my confusion when she grabbed a pillow, put it under his head, put a blanket on top of him, and sat down beside him on the floor.

So low that down is up.

He’d fallen as far as he was going to. He was safe. There was no rush.

She chatted with him for a few minutes about this and that, and while she did so, I could see her gently and casually checking his arms and legs for potential injuries. After 5 or 10 minutes, she brought a sturdy chair over, and Mr. Smith was calm enough that he was able to get up with very little assistance.

I learned something important that day. I myself have felt the freeing feeling of being at the bottom…of realizing things really can’t get any worse. There is a quirky sort of hope in that, and while there can certainly be fear and anxiety there, the terror of wondering how things can get worse is gone.

Tomorrow there will be a few minutes more of sunlight than there is today. And a few minutes more the day after that. YIPPPEEEEE!!

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