Joe and I had checked out the ramp down to a floating bridge that connected one part of the harbour from another. At the top, after consideration, I felt that it was doable. It was steep but I had Joe for help. What I couldn’t see was at the bottom, maybe three or four feet from the end, the steep slope tilted and became steeper. When we got there, I panicked. I felt out of control and I was terrified.
Joe helped me turn the chair around to go down backwards, something made difficult by the steep slope we were on and by the narrow ramp. I lost control of my breath. I was truly and deeply frightened. It didn’t help that when turning I saw that people were waiting to go both up and down the ramp and we impeded access both ways. So they took the opportunity to watch as we struggled.
I felt on display.
I get that people do that.
I get that it isn’t always hostile.
But I wish they’d get that, at that moment, their watching made it more difficult.
There’s always one, isn’t there?
A woman said to her family, “Let’s turn and watch the seals, give this man some privacy.” I couldn’t see what she did because of the flurry of activity, the beating of my heart and the adrenaline pumping through my veins. But I did see, when I turned, a whole family. A mom, some children, a dad, and two elderly grandparents, all turned away from me. All giving me the moment I needed.
Those are the people I choose to remember. Even though I understand that very few people would get what I needed in that moment, I need to notice that some do.
And that gives me more comfort than you can possibly imagine.