I played half a game of pickleball this morning before I had to stop, my knee screaming. Pickleball—such a silly name for a sport I love so much; one that doesn’t love me back. I’m losing my left knee to pickleball, although basketball, softball, volleyball, and racquetball probably made their contributions long before pickleball became a thing.

I returned home today, defeated. So sad that my body cannot do the things that once came so naturally. Miles of running. Hours of practice. Two-a-days. Diving. Sliding. Rolling. Jumping. (Okay, I was never a great jumper, but at least I could make an attempt.)

It happens with age, I guess. And I am lucky to still have a beating heart, a brain without tumors, strong arms that can lift me when my knees cannot. Why should I complain? My sister doesn’t even have a voice to express her frustrations any more. Or fingers with which to type her grievances. Not that she would have, anyway. Carrie didn’t complain.

I am the complainer of the family that no longer is. The put-upon.

But there is a deep and abiding sadness in me today. After spending too much time watching two men shouting falsehoods and accusations at each other, one loudly and one quietly, my soul raised a white flag. This country. This country. How can this possibly be where we are? Who we’ve become? I’ve Googled “expatriating to Portugal” too many times to count lately. I’m ready to learn a new language. To settle under strange trees.

But I am always ready to run. That’s what I do when life gets tough. Anyone who knows me can testify. When my former husband and I used to argue, I would jump in the Buick Roadmaster and drive. For hours, I’d drive, going nowhere, only to come back home, tired and spent and silent.

When someone hurts me, I cannot leave quickly enough. I don’t want them to see my tears, my pain, so I turn my back and move as quickly as I can in the other direction.

But now I’m here, with my dying knee keeping me squarely in my recliner, computer on my lap. So, the only escape I can make is through my words. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, right? Something about life closing one door and opening another? A lesson in the sticker on my laptop yelling “strong female protagonist” directly at me? Is it a sign to stop running and keep writing? I don’t know. Do any of us really know?

Sissy is sitting here beside me in all her tattered, scarred skin, breathing deeply and loudly in her safe sleep. She is satisfied just to be with me, to receive some pats of love and affection, to be fed yummy treats and held like a baby and thrown a ball or two from time to time. What if we all were so at peace? What if I could be?

Fifty-four years in, I’m still learning to be still and silent and grateful for what I have. To understand that what I have is enough. And that it always will be. To breathe through the hard times and relish the good. To give my knee and my body the rest it deserves. The rest it has earned.

To stop running. To continue learning. To breathe. To be.

And to be okay with just being.

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