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Broken ankle throws curve on life

It seems like it has been forever since I last sat at the computer to share reflections. Life engaged is like that; planning is an idea – what will my day look like; what will I accomplish; what are the goals for the next five years, 10 years.

I learned in teaching the perfect lesson plans meeting the curriculum outcomes were simply outlines and would unfold as prescribed plans until you added the human element, the human experience. And to teach well, one remembers to stay present to the fact we set the learning environment, we create the safe space, we guide the lesson and we listen to the teachers in the room as to where we will go. Who are the teachers in the room – the students, of course. Learning took place, outcomes were reached, many times differently than the plan intended.

Why would everyday life be any different?

Recap – moved into the new house, at the end of the summer added Bailey, a puppy to our family, school and work going full on, back to the gym, and AAA hockey season began.

What could possibly go awry?

Bailey would be easy to train because all puppies are. Any blip in the training process belongs to the human side and I accept that. Did you know dogs don’t speak English or French or Italian or any other form of human tongue? Besides Leila is the one who wanted the dog and she was going to do all the hard work.

Wait did I mention, Leila at the end of practice the first week of school had a mishap; she broke her ankle. Ever since she got her non-walking cast with explicit instructions from the doctor absolutely no weight-bearing, she has been counting down the days before it is removed Oct 8. Of course, we will then learn the after care what it entails and its implications on playing. This is tangible, evident and visible. What happens on the internally?

I wish I could write and tell you what a wonderful, strong caring person I have been through this experience, but that would be a fib and misleading. There have been moments. Internally, my value system struggled – Leila is injured, she is young, she will recover, she is a trooper and has an attitude that many could adopt including me. Where does my mind go at times- why? she is not on the ice, she is not playing games, the cost, yes, the cost. Is that selfish of me, certainly is, then some young person, her coach wisely stated, “Leila breaking her ankle is not about breaking her ankle and the games she is not playing; it is about the entire experience.”

So, I listen to his words and reflect – When Leila was hurt, what was the response? Coaches, parents, and athletes all came to her aid with genuine concern for her well-being. Together brainstorming on the response to the injury and many people stayed until the ambulance took her to the emerg. Her coach went with her, so I could keep my car when it was time to leave the hospital. This meant another parent had to come to the hospital to bring the coach back to his car. The next day another hockey parent picked up groceries for us. The team signed a card; one of the other teams in our league had all the players sign a card; parents, grandparents from our team and other teams have called, texted, and expressed their concern when they see Leila. So, be Leila and I surrounded by all this care and love. It was there before the injury, of course. The injury provided the opportunity for the love and attention to manifest outwards with a heightened awareness to remind us we are surrounded by a caring circle. Leila takes the doctor’s orders seriously and has followed them exactly to ensure the break heals well. Leila will still attend practices and games; as she states, “I am still part of the team.” Watching is hard and reminds her how much she wants to be on the ice; this is a good realization to know what she has lost is something she wants back. She asks, “What will it be like the first time I go on the ice?” The answers lie within her, what I know – she will come out the other end a stronger person for this experience as will I.


“Injuries give you perspective. They teach you to cherish the moments that I might have taken for granted.”

Ali Krieger


A broken ankle isn’t isolated to hockey, especially when there is no weight-bearing allowed. The school had to accommodate for her injury – so for a brief time she will have pick up and drop off in front of our house; she will have access to the elevator and lift at school. What do the accommodations demonstrate to us? She is a part of a caring school community. There was no hesitation from the school to assist with the change in transportation or accessibility. Leila’s friends are helpful. She unfortunately, is unable to run and play, however there is always someone close by to chat with while outside. She is receiving empathy and care from people who are a part of her daily life. They feed her soul.

Of course, then there is home, thankfully this child has so much love and support from the world around her. TiTi sometimes is simply overwhelmed with a puppy that doesn’t speak English and is doing his best to let me know when he has to relieve himself or is he? lol The home I wanted to project neatness and cleanliness is falling short of my expectations, which breeds frustration. Internally, I question my decisions to take on a house, a dog, hockey, gym, work….and then Leila and I will have a conversation that hits me hard in the heart. She reminds me what is important in life – she is. She wants to spend time with me, quality time with me. What trumps that sentiment? Nothing.

What this past month has taught me no matter what life has thrown our way we are blessed and recognizing we are blessed brings me back to being grounded.

Work keeps me connected to a purpose to give back to the community. Going to the gym builds my strength. Hockey reminds me how sports were integral in building my character and skill set. Bailey reminds me to play and enjoy the obliviousness of frivolity. Leila continues to teach me the strength in forgiveness, stay focused on what is meaningful and not to lose sight of the true significance of unconditional love.



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About The Author

Anna Barsanti is a retired educator who is sharing the experiences of raising her niece.

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