The leg that is missing is green.
A green shadow.
It's bright in the center. A deep dark concentrated green. Yet bright.
Almost as if alive.
It's bright in the center but as the color spreads it also fades. A shadow. A living shadow of green. When I sit up in bed, as I often do, this shadow is my only focus. The leg that is missing is green. The left one. It's heavy. Heavy, yet gone. Undone.
When I was 40 years of age, I lost my leg.
Three days past my birthday four buddies brought me up a mountain. Ted, Max, Theo and Alf. Good buddies. True friends. They carried and dragged and semi-lifted me up, while cheering and roaring. Being all that men are supposed to be while climbing a mountain. Stereotypes. Prototypes. The ideal. The real thing.
The hours passed. Hours of alcohol and junk food. Tom had even managed to bring a cake up the mountainside. I saw its blue frosting through the plastic before they opened the box for me. Unappetizingly blue. Frosted. It was getting cold. Blue.
I had not been in the mood for a party. Have I mentioned this? My wife had left me ten days prior and all I wanted to do was, as now, sit in bed. Did I mention this?
It matters, you see.
Now I sit here without a choice, and I hate it. I hate to sit here and focus on this missing leg. The greenness. I hate to have to stay here and not be able to get up and out.
The clouds that day were heavy and low. I could sense them, smell them, before my buddies even had a clue of their existence. And way after too. I do this, you see. I see missing things as green, and I can smell clouds.
They were all wrapped up in their own yellow. The mountain-climbing men.
They were so drunk and so out of it. Each so high on the fact that it was not he who was turning a certain rounded age. Someone else. So very very yellow in their gratitude. Yellow is gratitude. Gratitude and the happiness and cheer that follows. So yellow.
Do you understand this?
If I were you and I were to read these words, I would be seeing them as purple. Purple is my sadness. My sad story.
Death is purple. Tears are purple. When they are real. Sometimes I imagine death as yellow. Just sometimes.
That's often enough, though. Isn't it?
The sometimes. When it comes to death.
I can tell the difference. Black is not the only color I see when burying the dead. Which is what I used to do. Bury the dead, that is. Before the green faded all the black away and left me with only purple.
For that is what I have now. A green leg drenched in purpleness.
That is what I have.
As they brought me up the mountain, and the clouds drowned our cheers, they had not come to think of how we would descend it again. The mountain.
Many were too drunk to even consider it.
But my four beers and I had come to the conclusion that I would descend this mountain. I would climb down, all on my own, and I would drive to my ex and ask her to spend an evening of orange with me. She would know what I meant. Would she be able to turn down her love of 15 years on his birthday? His very own 40 th birthday.
Would she? Purpleness seeping out of her eyes, or rather maybe she would be a glaring red. It did always suit her. The furious redness. It did.
I thanked them for the party and took a step over. A step out. A step too far from the closeness for Ted grabbed my arm and insisted, buddy stay, that I stay. When he let go he did so with such a force, thinking that he had convinced me, that I tripped two steps backwards. The second step was way too far and in whiteness, in pure whiteness, I fell. I fell, I fell. Fell.
I woke one week later. I would never come to know if she would have consented to orange; I would never know. Orange just for my birthday. Just for me. Me, as I with two legs. No greenness to force orange on her.
I lay there on a hospital bed with faces smiling above me. When I woke.
Ted's smile and eyes were the broadest buddy, as they were just so so yellow to have me wake and drain them of their guilt. And I lay there and felt green. Something was missing. I asked what had happened. The faces nodded and shook their surrounding heads. Explained.
That's how I came to spend most of my days sitting up in bed, in greenness.
So I lost my leg.
I need to move on.
I have to get out of bed.
Imagine a walk with me. See how people react to me as I take steps with crutches and force all the strength of my legs into my two walking arms. Walk with me and see the look you have on your grey grey face. White fear tainted slightly with yellow. Adding a splash of blue. Or something like that as you glance and walk past me. And think of the brave brave man who is not you.
My ex did come to visit me. And she did orange me dirty. It was wonderful. And as she sat there all pink above me, she closed her eyes and traced the air where my leg had once been. She followed the track it would have taken up to my body. With her hand. Fingers spread. I closed my eyes too and felt her trace my leg right back into life. And soon we both felt all the purpleness slip away. And I smiled and wiped some remaining purple out of my eye and knew that I had never felt more alive and whole. As I turned and looked out my window, a rainbow spun its way across the sky through which I once had fallen. A rainbow of hope and promise. All the colors out there. In life. The good and the bad.
It matters, you know. It matters.
words: Cathrine Lødøen, Norway (snapshots)
image: Steve Wing, Florida (about & more)