I did not want friends who use wheelchairs because I was not going to be “one of them.” I just wanted to go back to the way things were — without anyone noticing the very obvious wheelchair my butt was planted in, probably for the rest of my life. Although I was disconnected with reality — and with my body and mind — it wasn’t obvious to me how much I was isolating myself until, years later, I met others with spinal cord injuries.
A select few were determined to be my friends. They pushed me to try new things, and included me in activities like adaptive sports, going to bars, and just spending time together without explaining the SCI stuff. It became comfortable and safe … and even though a group of wheelchairs out in public attracts all surrounding eyeballs, I realized I did not feel out of place.
Now, my resistance to wheeled companions has disappeared (I wish it hadn’t taken so long), and I have befriended some of the most resilient, beautiful, comedic, creative and determined beings. I’d like to say that somehow I would have met them anyway, but that is highly unlikely. A life-changing moment bonds us, and what we experience — daily, individually or collectively — makes us a community.
We are not alone. Our lives intersect even if we haven’t met yet. I feel lucky to be connected to others who know what it’s like to wake up in the morning positively determined to conquer the day but who also understand the effort and challenge it can be to just get through it sometimes.
I am “one of us.”
To see more of Reveca Torres’ original art, follow @revecart on Instagram.