When my husband came home from work yesterday, he found me on the kitchen floor. Oh, I had not fallen. I had gotten down on my hands and knees for a reason.
My last piano student after school had cancelled, so I had some extra time to make a nice dinner. I cooked up some chicken and rice, cut up some broccoli, mixed up some biscuits, and made a salad of fresh greens, chopped carrots, and sliced grape tomatoes. I dressed it with a homemade concoction of vinegar and honey, salt and pepper, tasting my finger as I caught the drip on the side of the jar. Mmmm. Then I turned to carry the salad from the kitchen counter to the table. That was when my slippery neuropathic fingers lost their grip.
The bowl, luckily, did not break, but spun upside-down in that high-pitched tone, spinning faster and faster until it suddenly stopped, and the dramatic silence gave me a chance to pull back into a panoramic view of the damage. Leaf lettuce and romaine lay strewn across my kitchen floor in a wide arc. Bits of orange carrot were sprinkled like confetti, finding places under the stove, against chair legs, and hidden in the colors of the braided rug in front of the sink. Halves of baby tomatoes lay open-faced, as if gasping for breath, their little golden seeds thrown from their innards in splashes of red juice and little puddles of glistening, transparent dressing.
It’s a good thing my housekeeper, Lisa, had mopped my floor that afternoon. I thought about that as I cautiously stepped over to a chair to lower myself down to the floor. That very fact made it salvageable. The five-second rule was out the window. I had stared at the mess already longer than that.
I knelt among the carnage, somewhere between tears and gratitude for a clean floor, and began to pick up each baby tomato, each bit of carrot, each bite-size piece of lettuce. I had to be careful not to place the knee of my dress pants in a spot of dressing. No easy task. Then I crawled over to the sink, and from my knees, grabbed the dishrag, wet it, (I could just barely reach the faucet) and began to wipe the floor.
At this point I should tell you that I cannot get up off the floor by myself. And I knew that when I got down. I knew I would have to wait until my husband got home so that he could lift me up. But I also knew that he was due home any minute. Still, the thought occurred to me that I might be stuck down here for a while.
I began wiping the floor, then crawling back to the sink to rinse my rag, then wipe again. I remembered a scene from my daughter’s childhood. We were scrubbing the floor together on our hands and knees, pretending to be Cinderella, crooning, “Sing, sweet nightingale…” In those days, the neuropathy had not yet taken so much of my thigh muscles, and I could get up off the floor by myself.
But yesterday, as I was washing the floor, my husband came in the door, looking through the mail and smiling at me, as if this happened every day. “Hello,” I greeted him warmly. “We’re having chicken for dinner… and tossed salad.”