"WHO WILL TIE IT UP WITH A RIBBON, AND PUT IT IN A BOX FOR ME?"
During my lifetime, I’ve experienced human suffering. I've worked with disabled orphans in China, long-time street people in Atlanta, taught mentally- disturbed youth in the DC Jail, tutored six year old sex offenders jailed outside Philadelphia and--until recently-- taught special needs children with severe deformities in Arkansas. I understand the sufferings of others; I've faced human suffering every day.
It was only when my two daughters--children I carried in my body and in my heart-- abandoned me--- that I understood the meaning of the phrase “A lifetime of Suffering.” My loss is permanent. Emotional Pain has become my constant companion.
I've experienced agonizing pain during m lifetime but this is a persistent pain that involves the most-sensitive parts of the heart. This pain can’t be treated with medicine or bed rest, physical therapy, or social interaction. This pain is a deep-down hurt that will never go away; It's a living hurt that's locked deep inside my heart.
Living with such a permanent sadness, always just one-step-away from tears, I was determined to accept what I couldn’t change and move forward, but how?!?! I wanted to be productive again…..not only for myself, but for others.
Because of endless moves and re-locations, much of my life has stayed hidden in storage boxes. It’s no coincidence that a simple cardboard box helped me shoulder much of the pain.
One day, looking through a stack of old paperwork, I found the notes to an article I’d written about Visualization. Years before, living in Atlanta, I’d taken classes in Visualization. I learned that the mind has amazing powers-- undeveloped potential—powers that are totally unknown to medicine, drugs, and psychiatry. Glancing through my notes, I was inspired to close my eyes, clear my mind, and visualize my hurt. Over time, the power of Visualization has become a part of me. I refer to it as my coping mechanism.
Trust me, it’s not Voo-Doo or Witchcraft. It’s simply the art of practicing Mind over Matter. Everyone must find their mind's most-comfortable "setting"....a secure place that allows one to focus, without restrictions. Mine is to visualize myself sitting on the floor in front of a large, dark TV Screen.
Here's how I do it: I sit quietly, close my eyes, and keep clearing my mind until my focus is centered on something bare, or blank.....like a large screen TV. I visualize myself turning on the TV and there I am.....sitting on the floor, in color, surrounded by items that I know, instinctively, cause me to feel Loss, Sadness, Hurt, and Pain. I see long-ago baby pictures, memories, cards and letters, childhood drawings, spoken words, newspaper clippings, and distinct items of clothings.
One by one, I pick up each item, look at it, study it, and let my mind take a photo of it before leaning over to place it in a large and empty white box. I continue this process until I visualize myself sitting, all-alone, on the floor, with nothing left around me. The White Box is completely full so I carefully tuck clean white tissue paper around and on-top of all the items before closing the box and securing it with clear, heavy-duty tape.
My final gesture includes picking up a red marker and drawing a large heart on top of the box. Then, using the same red marker, I print these words beside the heart:
OWNER’S INSTRUCTIONS: “PLEASE DO NOT OPEN OR SHARE THE CONTENTS OF THIS BOX UNTIL AFTER MY DEATH."
From my unfinished book "More or Less."
“If you’re lonely or seek attention---Get a Dog.”
Checking our bags at the Little Rock Airport Terminal after a brief visit in Pine Bluff, my youngest daughter and I were impressed with all the attention Miss Starr was receiving inside the terminal. No doubt, “Missy”--- as we so often called her--- enjoyed the affectionate hugs, pats, and comments from strangers of all ages. Tall, stately, and a natural blonde, our standard poodle--Missy--liked to displayed her Pedigree and Show Dog manners. Wearing herTraditional Poodle Cut, Missy charmed everyone with her elegance.
Also checking in at the crowded ticket desk, a group of young men---surrounded by guitar cases, sound equipment, and other performance paraphernalia--- began paying attention to Missy, petting her and commenting on her classic good looks. One man in the group was particularly friendly and soon struck up a conversation. He was tall, nice-looking, and his name was Ken Cross. I couldn’t help but notice his ear lobes, not only pierced but also tattooed with half-moon designs (Don’t forget, this was the early eighties and tattoos were rare.) It wasn’t long before my daughter and I met each of Ken’s friends, learning they had performed in Little Rock the night before and were now returning home. Sorry to hear we had missed their show, they asked for our address, saying they wanted to send us tickets for future performances.
On the flight to Philadelphia, my daughter and I were sitting in coach until Ken came to get us, insisting we join his group up front. Since the group had purchased every seat in First Class, there were quite a few extra seats. Before leaving us in Philadelphia, our new friends shared lots of good-bye hugs and kisses for the three of us, promising to stay "in-touch."
For several years after that unexpected airport encounter, I received tickets to concerts, invitations to dinner, even Christmas Cards from our new friends....The Doobie Brothers.
(Yes, Miss Starr's name was included in every greeting and every invitation.)