When I first was in Croatia, even before we married, I think, I heard a singer named Lidija Bajuk on TV singing a song that of course I could not understand, since I didn't speak Croatian. But the refrain always included the words "korak po korak," and I remember asking my newly beloved if that might possibly mean "step by step."
He said yes. And once more I thought how all those puzzles I used to do in the newspaper had paid off. I think they were called cryptograms? All the letters had been assigned a number, and you were trying to figure out a phrase simply by making intelligent guesses based on what you knew about how letters tend to be used in patterns to form words. I'm sure it helped me in learning foreign languages because of the constant pattern recognition that is necessary.
Anyway, today that memory came back to me because I saw my doctor this morning and was told that after six weeks following a surgery, I can (and should) begin walking again.
For six weeks I have mostly lain on a couch, keeping my foot, and usually its companion, up above heart level, to prevent or decrease swelling and to help it heal. I have leaned heavily on the generous heart and strong body of my husband, and we have been immensely grateful for the support of friends with prayer, words of encouragement, meals, visits, and other ways of helping out. But the time has come that walking is what this needs to further heal. And it's what I need to live the life I normally live, which was the whole point of the surgery.
So today I took my first very tentative, very strange steps. I have to wear this surgical boot that reminds me of the stormtroopers from Star Wars. Said boot is about two inches higher than the very, very low-heeled shoes I normally wear, so each pair of steps was almost comical because of the lopsidedness. (I'll be calling the doctor about that. I don't want to develop a spine problem from lopsided walking for another month and a half.....!)
I think in my naive mind when I first scheduled this surgery, I imagined that when the day came that the doctor said I could walk, I would just be able to walk. I hadn't thought about what six weeks of not walking would do to the muscles and joints and even the part of my brain that has since toddler years just known that I could walk and how to do it.
I hadn't thought that my foot would still be bruised at this point, that the incisions would still show and be sensitive. Or that one of the major nerves in my foot would still be experiencing strange effects that sometimes resemble pain.
That's why I decided to take those first steps with the walker you see in the photos. Just to be smart, just in case I needed it.
So I thought I would just be walking to an event I've been looking forward to tonight. John Michael Talbot is coming here to teach and sing. I'm very much excited about it. I had really hoped to simply be walking, even if slowly. Now I'm wondering if I should just go with the scooter thing I've been using. I hate calling attention to myself and can't decide which is worse--to be on that thing, or to walk with a hobble and possibly "give out."
The truth is, either way I have to wear a stormtrooper boot, so I'm not exactly going to blend in, no matter what....
I'm not sure what I'll do. But it's an exciting day. And it was really neat when I took these steps and sent the pictures to my husband, that he texted back, "One step at a time." Which is basically what "korak po korak" means.
I remember over 25 years ago when we saw her on TV, I said something like, "She seems like a lovely person. I'd love to meet her." And he told me she is from his hometown, she is his age, she is a real person that people do meet and know, even though that night she was on TV and by that time was living in Zagreb, the capital, where we moved shortly after we married. We didn't know at that moment that a war was going to start and change everything. And we thought perhaps we would connect with her.
So today when I'm not thinking about walking or the other things I have to think about today, I'm thinking about Lidija Bajuk and wondering if somehow, someday, I may still be able to meet her and tell her how beautiful I think her voice is and that I love the simple way she plays guitar and sings. And that she has worked to keep poetry and folk stories alive. That I love how her videos feature nature and its beauty.
Maybe I should write her a letter?
Send her a link to this blog post?
I don't know. Step by step. Korak po korak. First I need to be able to walk to my desk if I want to write a real letter. And walk to the mailbox to mail it.
Meanwhile, you can listen to her music and see scenes of Croatian nature here.
And here is a song she wrote about the river that runs close to the town where I first heard of her, with pictures of it, also.