The next couple of weeks brought plenty of action and events. I focused harder on the therapy and tried to focus less on Mason. He seemed to be doing the same. I had renewed vigor, which led to stamina, which led to more workouts, which led to exhaustion, which led to tons of sleep, which led to healing, which led to me walking.
This simple task, this simple thing that we all take for granted, that's so cute and monumental when a baby takes his first steps, but these first steps were so much more than that. Though I cried like a baby, I wasn't one. And though my mother cooed and fawned over me (because I had invited them that day to come because I just knew that day was going to be the day) I wasn't a toddler. I was me. I was finally getting a little piece of myself back. And though I tried so hard not to, my eyes drifted to the one person in the room that I knew would understand all this better than anyone else.
Mason's eyes were already on me from across the parallel walking bars. This time, I didn't shy away from his gaze. I knew that our terms were shaky, but so was I, and I needed the stability of my lifeline. As our gazes collided, I expected a smile and happiness, but I didn't expect the level of pride and utter joy to be so prominent. The man was bursting at the seams with it. It filled his face and the smile he wore was the beautiful one that made me feel like everything was going to be OK.
His lips parted and even in the loud room, I could still hear his breath. He said quietly, "You did it, Em." He moved forward and touched my arm. It was the first time he had touched me in weeks that had nothing to do with therapy. "I'm so proud of you."
As his fingers circled my elbow, and I tried not to shiver in his grasp, I asked softly, knowing the answer, "You didn't believe that I was going to walk again some day?"
"Of course I did." He smiled wider. "But today was the first time that you've ever believed it."
He was right. Having faith and having hope were not the same thing, and I was just now understanding that.