December was a very long month. It took two weeks before Robby was strong enough to get out of bed. Even then, he could only manage a few steps at a time. He couldn't get down from the dresser by himself. There was no way he'd be able to get down from the curio or the shelf that we stayed on now. Anytime he needed to be transferred somewhere, he had to wait for Beast'sbelle to come and carry him (none of us were strong enough to move him by ourselves).
It was heartbreaking to see him in this state. He'd always been so strong and adventurous. Now he was almost completely dependent on others to get from place to place. It was a very difficult transition for him. He tried to have a good attitude through it all, but I knew him well enough to see the frustration and depression that threatened to take over. And he was in so much pain. I think everything would have been more tolerable if it didn't hurt so much to move.
Ben and Beast'sbelle worked out a strict recovery regime, which included scheduled intervals of rest and walking. Their hope was that careful exercise would keep Robby's damaged joint limber and usable. If he remained immobile, he might lose the use of his joint completely.
So every day, Eugene, Ben and I took turns taking him on his walks. I have to admit, it was a little hard for me to take my turn (Robby was a lot heavier than I was), but I was determined to help.
Eventually, as Robby slowly improved, we started walking on Beast'sbelle's bed. Some days we'd go part of the way down the hallway (only when Beast'sbelle's bigger girls were in school and her youngest was at quiet time, though...Robby wasn't fast enough to dart out of sight anymore).
One day in mid-December, we finished our scheduled walking and decided to take a rest next to the big floral pillow. Robby was so tired of resting in Tess's bed all of the time. It wouldn't be much longer before Tess would need her bed back and Beast'sbelle would have to come up with another plan for him anyway, but Robby was already sick of it.
We stopped next to the pillow, and I turned to Robby. "Do you need help sitting down?" I asked.
Robby set his jaw. "Let me try it myself first," he decided.
I nodded and stepped away. With a look of determination, he carefully lowered himself to a sitting position, grimacing all the way.
I wanted to step in and help him. All I wanted was to make things as easy as possible for him. I'd learned in the past few weeks, however, that Robby didn't want to have things easy. The best gift I could give him was the ability to try things on his own, even if it hurt him. It was the only way he felt like he had even a shred of dignity.
So even though it was difficult, I let him do things by himself as much as I could. I didn't want him to feel like I was babying him.
When he'd situated himself, I sat down next to him. "Well, that was an improvement from the last time," I said encouragingly.
Robby looked away. "Who am I kidding, Belle? I never thought I'd see the day when people would be cheering me on about how well I sat down by myself."
I didn't know what to say.
He wouldn't look at me. "I can't live like this, Belle...I can't! This is no life. I can't even get down from a simple shelf anymore. How can I do this? How can I cope with it all?" His voice broke, and his shoulders shook with suppressed sobs.
I couldn't move or speak. I had never seen Robby cry before. He'd always been so perfectly calm and in control of his emotions. His breakdown was understandable, but horrible to see all the same.
"I'm so afraid, Belle," he whispered. "I don't know what I'm going to do."
Feeling tears in my own eyes, I took his hand in mine. "You're going to just take one day at a time," I said softly. "You're going to focus on that day by itself, and not think of all of the other days to come. Just get through that day, Robby." I swallowed hard. "You have so many friends who want to help you. We're all here for you! Don't give up...I know it's hard, but keep going." I love you, I wanted to add, but I was too shy to actually say it. That, and I wanted to save those words for just the right time.
Robby wiped his eyes and looked over at me. He chuckled through his tears. "Now I've got you going, too."
I laughed nervously and wiped my own eyes. "It doesn't take much." I looked up at him seriously. "I meant what I said, Robby. We really do care about you. Please don't give up."
He nodded. "I won't...it's just been really hard. I'm not making the progress I was hoping to."
"I'm just glad you're alive and with us," I admitted. "You might have been dragged off someplace where we'd never find you." I shuddered at the thought. "I'm glad you got loose when you did."
Robby nodded soberly. "I'm glad Beast'sbelle found me, too. I don't think I could have made it back on my own."
[I just realized that I never explained how Robby got injured in the first place. He'd do a much better job of explaining it, but I'll do my best.
Apparently he was helping a neighborhood cat whose collar had gotten caught in one of the pomegranate branches in our back yard. The cat was really spooked, and as soon as Robby freed it, it bolted. Unfortunately, Robby's leg had gotten caught in the cat's collar during the scuffle (he'd been on the cat's back to get the collar loose). The cat had dragged him halfway down our street before he was able to get himself loose!
He managed to crawl almost all the way back to Beast'sbelle's yard before he gave out. Thankfully, Beast'sbelle chose that time to take out the garbage and saw him. So yeah, totally crazy. I doubt he'll be helping any neighborhood cats again anytime soon!]
I took a deep breath and wiped away the last of my tears. "I think we've been sitting long enough. I don't want you straining anything. Why don't we get you back to bed?"
Robby made a face. "Oh joy," he said sarcastically.
"Doctor's orders," I reminded him.
"Yes, ever attentive Dr. Ben who makes my life no fun," Robby said drolly.
I laughed. "Yep, you're feeling better. Time to get you back."
As we slowly made our way to the edge of the human bed and waited for Beast'sbelle, I noticed that Robby looked like he was doing a little better emotionally than he had in a while. Maybe just getting his fear out in the open had helped. I hoped I could help him more along the way. It was going to be a long journey for him, and there would be more difficulty ahead.