It was not too many days later that Anna started to feel fully recovered from her injuries. At her insistence, her doctor agreed to remove the casts from her arm and leg. He asked her to take it easy for a few days, because these limbs had been supported by the casts long enough that the muscles had likely weakened due to atrophy. He recommended physical therapy to insure that she regained strength in both of the limbs correctly and completely.
She was tired of being an invalid, but she reluctantly agreed to the physical therapy. She even agreed to using the wheelchair again for a few days, just to make sure she was ready to put weight on her leg.
Her physical therapy started that very afternoon.
“Here, Anna, first just try bending your knee,” the therapist suggested.
“It hurts,” Anna said, starting to break out in a sweat.
“You’re doing great,” the therapist encouraged her.
“You must have a warped sense of great,” Anna joked, wincing as the stiff limb was moved back and forth.
“This leg has been in a cast for so long that the muscles have grown weak from not being used. It might feel like having growing pains all over again. The muscles have to stretch and regain their strength. You probably don’t know it, but leg muscles are some of the strongest muscles in your body.”
“Not this one,” Anna indicated her left leg, which was very noticeably smaller in circumference than her uninjured right leg.
“It looks like this left leg is fully capable of its normal range of movement,” the therapist concluded after the initial examination. “I have a schedule of exercises for you to practice every day. Don’t overdo it. Don’t push too hard. Don’t put too much weight on it yet. Let’s look at that arm, too. Your right arm was injured, so it’s also weakened. However, your left arm can hold the most important crutch – the left one. In fact, you might be able to get away with only using one crutch, since you’ve obviously been hopping around on your right leg all this time.”
“I’m just so ready to walk again,” Anna answered.
“That’s a good attitude. Mrs. Thibodeaux, you can help too,” the therapist said to Anna’s aunt. “To start with, Anna might need help bending her knee and elbow. You can gently help her move them. Don’t force the movement, but give support when she lifts her leg off the floor, like this.”
The therapist demonstrated, and Anna’s aunt told her it looked easy.
“Easy for you, maybe,” Anna winced again.
By the next day, Anna was becoming proficient at using only the left crutch to aide her in walking. Steps were still a challenge, but walking across level flooring was no longer a problem. She called her boss and told him she planned to be back in the office the next day.
Anna was overjoyed to be back to work again. The other office workers were equally excited to see her. However, by lunch time that first day back to work, her leg and arm both ached from being behind the desk. A brief time of walking around the office got them stretched out again, and she managed to make it through the entire day.
Some work had piled up while she had been away, and was waiting for her to deal with it. Other work that couldn’t wait for her recovery had been delegated to other employees.
She was most surprised to find that the trip to Florida had never happened. Neither her boss, nor any other coworker, had filled in for that emerging account.
“They insisted on waiting until you were recovered,” her boss told her. “What was I supposed to do?”
“You could have asked them to come here,” Anna prompted.
“You’re right, and I did,” he told her. “They were busy, and had other pressing issues. They just said they would wait for you. I was busy too, so that’s where we left it.”
“The doctor didn’t say anything about not traveling. I’ll go. It’s not a problem,” Anna told him.
“Anna, are you sure? You don’t have to rush this, you know.”
“I know. Really, it’s not a problem. I’ll call them and see when I can set it up. Besides, the trip will probably not be for a couple of weeks, so that’s even more time to recover.”
“Well, don’t blame me,” her boss told her. “The most important thing right now is for you to fully recover.”
“Maybe I can find a friend to tag along with me to carry my bags,” she joked, thinking of asking Matt.
She looked at her calendar before calling the customer. It was already Wednesday, December the first. “It’s been almost two and a half months since the train wreck,” she said out loud. “The last time I tried to travel I was with Jackson and Matt. Now Jackson’s in Heaven, Matt’s a Christian, and he’s actually being nice to me. Things have sure changed since then. I miss Jackson.”
She subconsciously held her leaf necklace as she dialed the phone to the customer in Florida. I hope they still remember me, she thought.
She had no reason to worry. Not only did they remember her, but they asked her extensively about the accident and how she was recovering. With the holidays coming up, however, the only day they could meet with her was in two weeks, December 15, or it would have to wait until January.
“OK, let’s do it,” she told them. “Plan on me being there December 15, and this time I’m not taking the train.”
They both laughed, but she was not joking. “No, I’m serious. I’ll fly in the evening before, and meet with you that morning.”
They agreed to the arrangements, and she hung up the phone.
“I wonder if Matt is even available,” she happened to think after hanging up. “Why should I bother him,” she wondered. “I’m not scared of flying any more.”
Instead of calling Matt, she called the travel agent and made the flight, hotel, and rental car arrangements. Afterwards she felt satisfied that she had made the right decision, and was finally starting to get back on her feet again. Besides, the fifteenth was still two weeks away. She anticipated being fully recovered by then.
“You’re going where, when, Anna?” Matt asked at supper that evening. He had come over so often during Anna’s convalescence that her aunt insisted he come over for supper every day.
“He’s just a poor hungry college student,” her aunt told her out loud. Anna guessed that her aunt might have match-making motives in mind, but she didn’t question it. Matt had been charming and fun to be around ever since the meeting with his dad. She couldn’t help admitting that she was growing rather fond of him, not necessarily romantically, but certainly as a good friend.
“Yes, Anna, what did you say you were doing?” her aunt asked her.
“I said I was flying to Orlando, Florida on December 14, meeting with the customer on the 15th, and flying home that evening.”
“I thought that’s what you said,” he answered. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“Well, Matt, I don’t have tickets to Disney World or Universal Studios, so I don’t see any reason not to come home that evening.” She was teasing him, pretending to not understand his real question.
“Anna, you know what I meant,” he told her.
“I know, but it’s fun teasing you for a change. I think I’ll be all right. You’re welcome to come along too. It would help with the overnight bag I suppose.”
“That’s just it, Anna. I can’t. That day is right in the middle of finals. There’s no way I can miss class that week and expect to pass the classes I’ve been taking.”
“Matt, if it was a necessity that you go along, I would have worked around your schedule. I’ll be OK. Really I will.”
“I remember you not being OK the last time you tried to fly to Florida.”
“And I remember not being OK about that flight long before I took it, not just at the airport. The fear is gone, Matt. Samuel cured me of it.”
Matt looked at her for a few minutes, before saying, “I believe you. I think you will be all right. Maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to thank Samuel in person.”
“I tried thanking him the last time I saw him. He didn’t seem to want any thanks. His suggestion was to praise God for the healing,” Anna explained.
“When was the last time you saw him, Anna?” her aunt asked. “Was it in the hospital right after the wreck? That was the last time you mentioned it to me.”
Anna looked down at her plate as she answered, “No, it was after that.” She remembered seeing Samuel after Matt scared her at his parent’s house. She didn’t want to blame Matt, so she was sorry she mentioned it.
“When?” Matt insisted. “What are you embarrassed about?”
“I’m not embarrassed. I saw him after the last time I was really scared,” she answered, still looking down.
“You were really upset after returning from Baton Rouge,” her aunt guessed.
“He talked with me that evening,” Anna told them quietly. “I asked him why I had to face the fear of pain, when I had just gotten over all my other fears.”
“Well, what did he tell you?” Matt asked her.
She looked at Matt as she quietly answered, “He asked me what else was left to face, if not that fear. He said God wanted me to turn all my fears over to God. So I did.”
“That was just a week ago, Anna. Why didn’t you tell us you had seen Samuel again?”
“What was there to tell? He talked with me a few minutes, then that was it,” Anna explained.
“So no more fears?” Matt asked.
“I met with your dad that next day. We had a wonderful visit, didn’t we?” she reminded him.
“Yes we did,” Matt admitted.
“No more fears,” Anna told him with confidence.
“Do you want me to drive you to the airport, Anna?” her aunt asked.
“That would be great, as long as you don’t mind picking me up late the next evening.”
“I can pick you up at the airport that next evening, Anna,” Matt volunteered.
“Thank you,” she answered quietly. Anna noticed the way Matt was looking at her. She simply smiled.