“This is what happens when you go hunting for oblivion without a reflective vest”

My little sister, Evian, reflecting on injury, pain and the resulting deluge of self-awareness.

If I had lost my leg, as the surgeon warned me I could have, I don’t know how I would cope. There would no backpacking across eastern Europe in my future. The kind of people I love would never be able to do the things they love to do with me. One of my tattoos and an ill-advised adolescent scarification would have been for nothing. But I would adapt, I think.

Looking back on the minutes before my first surgery as I do, frequently, in PTSD-style flashbacks, I can see what I experienced without the mind-fucking hugeness of being inside it. It’s funny the way we talk about being in pain, as if pain were a place, a structure, a holding area. The worst waiting room on earth. I look back on that pain: the physical pain that surprised me every second it didn’t kill me and the heartbreak pain that made the physical recede better than vicodin or oxycodone or dilaudid ever could, and if I try really hard to be optimistic without being silly, I can see it as a lesson. This is what happens when you go hunting for oblivion without a reflective vest. It isn’t even the worst. You still get to dance on one leg. You still get to be touched and held.

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