"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 in Arkansas, those with severe disabilities. 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; loss is my constant companion.
I've experienced pain during my lifetime but this is a persistent pain that involves the most-sensitive parts of the heart. This pain can’t be treated with surgery, medicine, or bed rest and social interaction only increases its severity. This pain is locked deep-down; it never goes away.
Living with such a painful sadness, always just one-step-away from tears, I desperately wanted to accept what I couldn’t change. I needed to be productive again…..not only for myself, but for others..... But How?!?!?
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, I reunited with the power of Visualization and now, 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. I always visualize myself sitting on the floor in front of a large, dark TV Screen.
Visualization only works when you are completely relax and are able to clear your mind of all distractions and outside forces. It requires the ability to create a picture in your mind, then focus. 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 sitting on the floor, watching a large screen TV that is attached to the wall. When I turn on the TV, everything is natural and, in color. I watch myself on the TV, sitting on the floor, surrounded by items that cause me to feel..... Loss, Sadness, Hurt, and Pain. I see all my hurt.....my children's long-ago baby pictures, memories, birthday cards and letters I received. I visualize myself touching their childhood drawings, spoken words, newspaper clippings, and so many items of their clothings.
One by one, I pick up each item, look at it, study it, and let my mind photograph it before placing it in the large and empty white box beside me. I continue this process until I see myself sitting, all-alone, on the floor, with nothing left but the White Box. The Box is filled to the top with all the items that had been sitting around me. 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 requires me to pick up a red marker and with a steady hand, draw a large heart on top of the box. Then, using the same red marker, I print these words under 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.)