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My daughter's long lanky frame is suspended in mid-air. The sound of her body whipping around the bar resonates throughout the gym. I have always believed that little girls can fly. To prove this, she sails through the air above my head. Her hands reach from one bar to another.

Jump, twist, turn, repeat. Jump, twist, turn, repeat.

This repetition of skills plays over and over. Occasionally, she stops for a quick drink of water and to run her hands through the chalk bucket. A clap of dust rises beside the bars. With a quick adjustment to her grips, she is flying again.

Over and over she plays on the bars until the routine is perfect. Flawless.

It wasn't long ago that tragedy struck.

Somehow, the distance was misjudged. Her fingertips slipped as they reached the high bar. That fall resulted in a broken child. Crumpled on the blue mat below her beloved bars, a primal scream escaped from her lips.

For months she could not run or play. This child who never sat still was trapped within the confines of a wheelchair. Surgery and a leg rendered immobile prevented her from completing even the simplest of tasks. School was not a possibility. Her days were long without the simple joys of recess, climbing trees, or riding bikes.

She yearned for the gym, her second home.

Before she could fly again, she needed to learn how to walk. Hours of physical therapy filled her days. Stretching, standing, and walking took the same amount of energy that once would propel her across the vault. Slowly she progressed from two crutches to one crutch. Finally, after many long weeks of work, she was free.

The words were not even out of the doctor's mouth, before she looked at the clock and said, “Practice starts in an hour.”

Little by little the skills returned, but there were demons haunting the bars.

Could she loosen up and learn how to play again?

Jump, twist, turn, repeat. Jump, twist, turn, repeat.

The gym is her playground once more.



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