I went flying this morning, my first voyage in a long while. When I landed, I landed on forearms and knees, face nearly grazing the floor of the train.

I saw things there I will spend some time trying to un-see.

All apologies and crawling, I fumbled my way up and out. My eyes were full of tears, an autonomic response to the shock and sudden pain. When I blinked to clear my vision, my wet eyelashes streaked mascara over the lenses of my glasses.

Limping, foggy-eyed, confused: what happened? I tripped. Backpack.  On the floor, in front of feet.  I saw it as I fell. I tripped? I must have.

My daily tasks were shrouded in odd jolts of soreness. I told my coworker, who commiserated. When we reached the “it could have been worse” portion of the exchange, she brought up the face-eating tumor. The face-eating tumor – which I could only look up so far as to find its clinical name, fibrous dysplasia – was featured on a television program she and her husband once watched, heart- and gut-wrenched.  Now it is their humility touchstone.

And now it is mine, and now perhaps yours, and all because I did not see a backpack.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.