Please note the picture of the large toe that occupies someone’s right foot (that someone being yours truly—as you can probably tell, pedicures are not my thing). Also, please note the malformation of the toenail attached to said toe. That crease that runs from side to side is the point to which it has grown out since I injured it. What some of you may think is dirt is actually bruising that looks SO much better than it did originally. Immediately after the aforementioned injury, the entire nail turned lovely, mingledy shades of blue, purple, black and brown. Now at least the bulk of the discoloration has faded.
And how, you might ask, did I manage to do such damage?
Hiking. I went hiking.
It was supposed to be a three mile hike through the mountains of Sedona, Arizona. That was probably accurate . . . if you only counted one way. Within a few days of traversing the West Fork Trail, my toenail was all shades of everything. My friend Google informed me this type of injury can happen to hikers or runners when the force of the shoe presses down repeatedly on the nail. Evidently, my right shoe was angrier about the trek than my left.
So now I’m to the point you see in the picture. The nail is somewhat normally colored and has grown out as far as the ridge that crosses it. Someday, perhaps in the next several months, the ridge will move on up the nail and into oblivion.
And when, you might ask, did this injury occur?
In November. November of 2018.
That’s right. It has taken 14 months to get to what you see. Which is still kinda gross but such an improvement over where I started.
There are so many things in this life that require time and patience for recovery and adjustment and for which we are willing to wait. If someone has open heart surgery, we fully expect an extended period for healing. If someone is diagnosed with cancer, we understand treatment can take months or years or even a lifetime. And in any health related event we know there is always the possibility of a relapse or recurrence after recovery or remission.
But if you lose a part of your soul? If your metaphorical heart is shattered because someone you loved died and left you here alone? You’ve got three months, tops. Maybe four. If the folks around you are generous—and patient—you might get a year to recover and move on with your life.
The folks who attempt to impose these time limits have never lost someone they loved deeply; someone so important in their life that a part of them died when that person did. This giant, black hole opens up, swallowing everything around it, and no surgical procedure or medical professional in the world can close it. Only Time. And even Time cannot affect healing. It simply allows for adjustment; for scars to form that will dull the pain and protect the wound.
These are painful injuries that are often hidden from the world. These are wounds that pierce our souls while leaving our bodies intact and outwardly whole. If you are the one grieving, don’t allow others to impose their time tables on your life. And if you are the friend or family member, don’t allow yourself to be fooled by appearances or the passage of Time. Neither is a reliable indicator that Grief has taken its permanent leave or that the one left behind has healed . . . because chances are, neither will ever truly come to pass.