April 13, 2024

No, Disability Is Not A «Fate Worse Than Death»

For the purpose of the series, I have been travelling around the UK, going to some extraordinary places and meeting some extraordinary people in order to learn about the radical changes they have made to their lives in pursuit of happiness and fulfilment and to find inspiration for changes I intend to make to my life moving forward.

The past year has been a particularly testing time, and the sense of achievement I feel being in front of the camera and riding my trike all the way to Scotland is almost overwhelming.

Sitting astride it, exposed to the elements, with so much power in my hands, having ridden to the summit of my wildest dream, at the place where one life ended, I wonder if it’s possible to feel more alive.

I look down at my weathered black biking jacket, worn in on the mission I’ve now completed, and it excites me to think how awful I must look. Normally, as a presenter, I’d be a veneered version of myself: hair-tonged, make-up perfect. But today filth and grime from the motorways and back roads are splattered over me and my trike and these are the marks of achievement I haven’t wanted to wash away. As the camera lingers on me, I remind myself to soak it up. This is happening. I have made it happen and it has taken me eighteen years to get here. I yank off my helmet and let my long, tangled blonde hair fly where it wants.

The specially modified machine between my legs catches the sun, and I hear the fan cooling the engine down. I got it as an eighteenth-anniversary gift to myself, to feel as liberated as is physically possible for someone like me. And, sitting astride it, exposed to the elements, with so much power in my hands, having ridden to the summit of my wildest dream, at the place where one life ended, I wonder if it’s possible to feel more alive.

When I drove down this road on that fateful night eighteen years ago, I was also about to embark on the long-awaited next chapter of my life. But I was distracted, blindsided by longing, and giddy with anticipation for what was to come.

I look down to my disabled body, momentarily saddened, and imagine the road scar whispering up at me, and look what happened to you.

In the years since the crash, I have scoured the memory of that night with the ferocity of a pack of wolves scavenging a carcass. Blooded, I return conflicted, even now. You see, one part of me wants to clasp my eighteen-year-old face in my hands, pull her towards me and scream as loud as a fighter jet, so loud my throat tears, Wake up, girl. LOOK out!

But, looking back, what would I want to do differently? Would I warn her what was going to happen? Perhaps not, I think, my mind fizzing, the camera light still blinking. Perhaps I would say nothing at all.

Impulsive, childish and foolish, I now know there was no better way for her to go but forward, to drive head-first into the unknown. To fall forward into life. Because if she hadn’t, then I wouldn’t be where I am now, about to do exactly the same.

Driving Forwards by Sophie L. Morgan is published by Sphere in paperback, 26th January, RRP £9. 99.

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