M. Linda Graham
Thank You For Your Service: A letter of gratitude to my right hip joint
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Dear Right Hip Joint,
Old friend. This Thursday you and I will part ways as a surgeon cuts into my body, disassembles you, and replaces you with mechanical parts. As so often happens in the contemporary world of labor, the artificial is taking the job of the old, broken-down flesh & blood worker. Ever since I met with the surgeon less than two weeks ago about your relentless pain that has insidiously increased over the last two years….ever since I saw that x-ray and scheduled the necessary surgery, I have been quietly mourning your farewell.
You have been the best of servants: flexible, strong, in charge and happy to lead the way throughout a long dance performance and teaching career. Reliable through jetes, battements, isolations, jazz splits and so much more, you elegantly provided a firm anchor for the right leg, which could then confidently extend “like the limb of a great oak” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 1981] and you steadfastly supported my life as a dance artist, athlete, teacher, literally carrying me through it all. You and your sister nested two bebes as they grew to be, altering your shape to permit their entrance into the world. You never questioned the command.
But now, like an old, loyal steward, the demands of the work manifest your demise. With no buffering cartilage left, and rebellious bone spurs invading your tendons and ligaments, a painful dementia has set in, and no amount of supportive pharmaceuticals or exercise can reverse this clock. Filled with a mix of guilt, frustration, grief and fear, I must let you go.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the genetics that foretold this end. I’m sorry that as a teacher for 40yrs, I did not regularly alternate which side I demonstrated exercises on – especially in ballet. I should have asked for more from your sister on the left. I’m sorry for the crappy warm-ups of my youth. I'm sorry for the inconsistent and indecisive workouts of my middle years. I’m sorry that I had the hubris to think I could heal you with Motrin, rest, and exercise when this new agony set in years ago.
Disregard those younger ones (and some older) who would, behind their sympathetic smiles, think “this will not be my fate…my technique will protect me from this bane of the decrepit.” Time takes no prisoners. Their time will come.
I'm so grateful. I’m so grateful for the amazing range, strength, endurance, willingness, capacity and brightness of your service through 62yrs, 2 months, 22 days of hard service. Know that you are, and have always been, appreciated and loved. You are, and always will be, an unforgettable part of who I am. Thank you.