I read about her in China's leading newspaper then looked at her photos. She was a young Chinese girl named Zhao Bin whose former boyfriend--angry over their breakup-- threw gasoline on her, lit a match—and—threw it in her lap.
Chinese authorities quickly arrested the rejected lover, shuffled him through a speedy trial and conviction--then stood him in front of a Firing Squad. His parents were ordered to pay for the bullets that were used to kill their son--- and to also pay for their son’s burial. Most devastating to the boy's Chinese family was the loss of "face" they would suffer--for life--because of their son's actions. SO, in the end, Justice was served; Punishment was swift; and Everyone seemed satisfied---- except for Zhao Bin. Where was her Justice?!?!?
It would takes pages and pages of writing to “take you”-- the reader-- from the beginning-to-the end of Zhao Bin’s amazing story. I will do my best to limit the details and highlight the facts. Like me, you will be touched by the remarkable details that occurred----because of God's goodness.
After being a hospital patient for more than one year, Zhao Bin--with severe burns over 98% of her body, was being released from a Chinese hospital. Normally, someone so seriously-burned would have died. Although her multiple burns and grafts were slowly healing, the relentless scarring kept attacking Zhao Bin's skin and muscles--further restricted her mobility. Her burn scars--like ever-thickening vines-- restricted her from raising her arms more than a few inches; her ankles were rigid, as if bound in one position by concrete. All but two of Zhao Bin’s fingers were lost in the fire while both ears and all of her toes were also burned-beyond saving. Most concerning, Zhao Bin had been sitting when her spiteful ex-boyfriend threw gasoline over her body so--- the area around and between her legs-- suffered the worst damage.
Although Chinese doctors tried multiple reconstructive surgeries, the young girl's body refused to "act" normal. Zhao Bin was forced to wear a permanent catheter while slow-to-heal burn scars succeeded in closing the opening to her vagina and reducing the size of her anus to the incredibly-miniscule size of an old-fashion pencil.
After more than one year, the hospital staff reported they had done all they could for Zhao Bin and now--they needed her hospital bed. They told newspaper reporters they had no choice but discharge her.
To further complicate Zhao Bin’s situation, her mother lived in a one-room apartment provided by her Department Store Employer and family members were not allowed. Zhao Bin was a young girl--all alone--with no money and no place to go. Her story was compelling. The voice inside me said "No one can help her--except you".
I spent more than 16 hours on a crowded Chinese train—from Beijing to Lanzhou--- to reach her. Due to my limited ability to speak Chinese, one of my Chinese students volunteered to travel with me. We met with Hospital Doctors, Government Officials, Zhao Bin and her Mother-- and—before catching the train back to Beijing---everyone was “onboard” with my plan.
Over a period of 3 months, I emailed, called, and wrote letters to long lists of people and organizations in America. Everyone seemed infatuated with Zhao Bin’s story, especially those with medical backgrounds. At last I found a Medical Doctor in Buffalo, New York, who excelled in Reconstructive Surgery. Not only did he agree to accept Zhao Bin as a patient, he agreed to perform extensive surgery on her seriously-burned body...for free.
Between the Doctor's efforts and my endless phone calls, the Hospital in Buffalo agreed to waive all hospital fees. I successfully- connected with several church groups in America that agreed to pay for Zhao Bin’s roundtrip Airfare from China to America. Most importantly, I used my Broadcasting connections to alert the Media...in both China and America...about featuring Zhao Bin’s story in their publications and when they did--- it was like the “parting of the Red Sea”.
I was inundated with requests for more photos, more details, even descriptions of her ex-boyfriend. Offers and gifts of money for Zhao Bin poured in from everywhere. She was inundated with free hotel rooms, clothing, speaking contracts, college scholarships.... But—more important than the money, hair wigs, or even dental services…The Chinese Government wanted to help Zhao Bin return to China after her surgeries---so they would give her a free furnished apartment, complete rehabilitation, a computer designed for her special needs, and long-term computer training by their experts. After she completed all necessary training, the government had a well-paying, lifetime job waiting...just for her.
Still a Teacher in China, one of my major employers--Kerr McGee-- insisted on flying me from China to Buffalo, New York, for the last of Zhao Bin’s four surgeries. I met with her medical team, the hospital staff, and all the many church members who’d volunteered to serve as Zhao Bin’s temporary family and friends. I was humbled at the outpouring of love I saw and felt--all around me.
It’s been more than a few years since I've corresponded with Zhao Bin but her last letter---typed expertly by her, on her "special needs" computer, described her happy marriage to a young Chinese boy who works as a Computer Programmer. The advanced surgeries she received in Buffalo, allowed the intimate parts of her body to function normally again. She also shared several photos of her young son, delivered through natural childbirth, without any complications. She "loves" her government job and, due to her professional training, proudly-referred to herself as the “breadwinner” of the family.
During her brief visit in America, Zhao Bin received a Bible—written in Chinese—from her Buffalo Church Family. In her last letter, she told me she reads it daily and continues to pray for everyone who “remade” her body. I was touched to read that she prays for me, too.
It’s easy to “save” others. Just listen to the "small voice" inside you--- and follow God's directions. Never question----just follow God's lead. God makes it so- simple for us to make a difference in another person’s life. God's plan is the perfect plan and, best of all, God does all the hard work.
So, despite your efforts to “lock-in” a secure future, the day comes when you have no choice but face the truth: You are alone. You have no family, no close friends, no job, very little savings, and your only means of support comes from a monthly- Social Security- Check. There are no phone calls on Mother’s Day...no invitations to Thanksgiving Dinner…and…forget Christmas!
When I found myself in this situation, there was NOTHING I could change except--ME. It took time, patience, buckets of tears, thoughts of suicide, and a lot of wasted energy before I developed my “recipe” for living alone--without being lonely.
I truly believe my approach to overcoming loneliness can be adapted to everyone’s situation--whether you are male or female, rich or poor, old or young, physically-active or--dependent on a walker or---a wheelchair.
NUMBER ONE: YOU must FIRST “rise” to the occasion and I MEAN—GET OUT OF BED OR OFF THE COUCH! You must be willing to struggle, to GET DRESSED, and pull yourself out of the depths of loneliness--even when it hurts--- before you can begin the long climb-- upward. For too- many, depression begins to feel familiar---like an “old friend.” Sometimes it seems easier to just do nothing and accept the familiar. STOP, RIGHT NOW--IF YOU EXPECT LIFE TO “FIX” your dilemma without YOU doing any work! NO ONE CAN FIX YOU--BUT YOU.
My solution extends to everyone who is sick & tired of the loneliness and--for all you who are READY to conquer the negative feelings caused by loneliness. I want to HELP each one of you who is ready to learn HOW to be alone---without being lonely.
TWO: It’s time to look in the mirror and evaluate your appearance. Good posture tells the world—you are proud of who you are. If you’re not--then—just for now—fake it. Look in the mirror and get those shoulders back, hold that tummy in, and hold your head high---like a Leader--a Queen-- or a King. Now--SMILE--WITH CONFIDENCE! After a while--you won’t have to fake anything about yourself because--you’ll soon be a believer!!!!
THREE: Fix what you don’t like about your appearance. Appearance is everything when presenting your-self to others. Start with a great haircut, something that makes you feel attractive. For women, a little makeup is a “must” and it works wonders. I don’t open my front door unless my teeth are brushed, I’m wearing my lipstick and---my hair is brushed. Another requirement is white teeth. Also, if you have dental problems--find an excellent Dentist. If you live on a limited income--find a free or almost-free Dental Clinic (they exists but sometimes, you must really-search to find them.) And, you can almost-always find a Dentist who offers a reasonable payment plan. Most Dentists will work with patients, especially those with a significant problem. AND, don’t forget that Dental Schools always need patients/models for students to “work-on.”
FOUR: Dress in classic clothes that accent your positives. If you don’t know how to bargain shop--then search through catalogs, dress shops, look at fashions on the internet--then go to the nearest thrift stores, bargain basements, or discount centers to find your size and what will look good—on you. And--while you’re “out and about”—practice your smile, your posture, your confidence—and your friendliness with everyone you see--even those on the other side of the cash register. You never know when you’ll make a new contact and--a new friend!
FIVE: Start walking, whether it’s only around your block—in the beginning--- then the next block--and so on. Your walking can also take place at the high school track-- or a nearby trail—or--inside a Mall or a large store like a Walmart Super Store! Hold on to a basket as you walk around Walmart--- if it makes you more secure but…NO EXCUSES! WALK!
SIX: Every morning…search your memory bank for a song…either from your past or from the present. Make it something you can sing out-loud or to yourself--and start humming it, singing it, and let that song stay with you-- all day! IT’S YOUR SONG FOR ONE DAY. TOMORROW, YOUR ASSIGNMENT WILL BE TO START THE DAY WITH ANOTHER SONG AND DO THE EXACT SAME THING WITH THAT SONG--ALL DAY.
SEVEN: Start this very day with a smile and- be friendly, courteous, and positive with all who cross your path. From the mailman to the grocery man---you begin by striking up a conversation, asking about that person and--make a comment about the sunshine--the pretty trees--or compliment a person on their outfit, or their kindness, or simply-thank someone for the time they spent--helping you!
EIGHT: Learn to “lose” yourself in projects. Work in the yard, decorate your house, hang your clothes on the deck or patio rather than putting them in the dryer. Change your weekly schedule by visiting the local library, volunteering at an animal shelter, visiting the post office to mail a card to a long-ago friend. DO NOT STAY HOME AND WATCH TV or “HANG OUT ON THE COMPUTER” for hours. All day, every day, you must be actively involved in the outside world. Focus on “sharing” yourself with others through a smile--a kind word or greeting--or by rescuing a lost or abandoned animal.
NINE: If you don’t have pets at home--consider adopting a dog--or two…or….a cat. My animals need me as much as I need them. My PETS AND I give each other love—day and night-- and--a million reasons to face today and all the tomorrows.
TEN: Learn to love yourself. Never forget that a “little girl or little boy” lives inside each one of us. Our childhood memories remind us of all the fun times--the times when we played hopscotch or jacks—baseball--rode our bikes in the rain--swung from a bag-swing--made mud pies, climbed the Jungle-Jim, loved our dolls--went to summer camps as Brownies, Cub Scouts, and later--- aspired to become GIRL SCOUTS and BOY SCOUTS.
Search through your memories for all those good times. Pat yourself on the back for all you’ve learned and accomplished. Shout “HURRAY” for all the good you’ve experienced and shared with others!
NOW, remember all the times you were motivated to succeed. Think about what inspired you; what gave you hope and promise; and what sparked your dreams. You’re never too old to activate a long-ago dream or to make a childhood wish come true. Dreams and Wishes can be modified to fit today’s realities so--never toss them aside. It took me forty years to realize my dream of traveling The Great Wall of China so—join me now-- to never-say: “NEVER”!!!!!!
I grew up hearing the phrase, “When one door closes, another opens.” For me, it didn’t take long. Approximately three weeks after losing the Mayor’s race, my father joined me for a trip to the local Goodwill Store. We often went there together, referring to our visits as “Goodwill-Hunting.” There were always things to see and buy, including books, records, pictures, costume jewelry, furniture, and clothes.
My father reached out to open the store’s front door just as it was being pushed-open from the other side. Leaving the store, the gentleman insisted on holding the door open so we could walk inside. The man smiled, said "Good-Morning" and closed the door behind him. It was a short encounter, maybe five seconds, but the stranger made a lasting impression.
My father and I spent less than an hour searching through some of the store’s used treasures. My father, knowing me as he did, sensed my mind was elsewhere; that I’d found a new challenge. I couldn’t stop thinking about the polite stranger who’d opened the door for us, the nicely-dressed older gentleman—so well-groomed and mannerly—with soft brown eyes, graying temples, proud posture and—half-a-face. Where his mouth should have been was a gaping hole, split all the way into his nostrils. Two long teeth—like tusks—were on either side of the hole and it hurt me to look at him.
All those Saturdays at the Public Library, reading and looking at medical books, I knew the stranger had a severe case of what was, at the time, called hare lip/cleft palate. It was called that because it resembled the upper lip of a hare or rabbit. Today, that term is considered offensive. In medical terms, the congenital birth defect is referred to as: Cleft lip and palate, and also known as Orofacial Cleft.
Riding home, I shared my thoughts with my father. We both wondered why doctors had failed to correct the stranger’s defect at birth. It was interesting to note—the stranger had a certain “presence”; what my grandmother often referred to as “good breeding.” I was curious why the stranger hadn’t sought corrective surgery during his lifetime. The man had opened a door I couldn’t close---without answers.
The next morning was Sunday. Before leaving for my daily run, I grabbed exact change to buy a newspaper from the corner vending machine. When I got home with my newspaper, I was a little irritated with myself for impulsively selecting the Democrat Paper rather than my usual Gazette. Opening the large paper, a section fell from between the pages and hit the floor. Picking it up, I was surprised to see it was Midweek Magazine. How absurd! Midweek Magazines were only circulated on Wednesdays and besides, this magazine was dated 3 weeks earlier! Why was an old, Wednesday-Only magazine stuck in a current Sunday Newspaper?!?!? Posed to throw it in the trash, I glanced at the cover article’s headlines, “St. Vincent Free Lip and Palate Clinic.” I remembered the stranger from yesterday and sat down to read the article.
Forced to wait until the next day to call the Clinic, I needed to locate my mysterious stranger. My father suggested I call his old friend, L.E. Bradley, a retired city bus driver, who knew just-about everyone in the Black community.
I contacted Mr. Bradley and described the man I’d seen two days earlier. Without any hesitation, Mr. Bradley said “You’re talking about my best friend, Moses Dixon. Just say the word and I’ll bring Mo to my house so you can talk with him!”
At 9 a.m. the next day, I contacted the clinic. After hearing a little of my story, the receptionist suggested I speak with Dr. Robert Vogel. Although the Free Lip and Palate Clinic had been specifically designed for babies, the Doctor was interested in hearing Moses story. He made an appointment to meet Moses, to see if he qualified for surgery. If so, Moses would be the first adult to receive treatment at that particular Clinic.
When Moses and I officially met at Mr. Bradley’s house, his first question was “How much would the surgery cost me?” At times, especially when he spoke fast, Moses was almost impossible to understand. Several times, Mr. Bradley stepped in to “translate” for Moses as I learned more about Moses’s background.
One of nine children born on a farm in Sherrill, Arkansas, Moses was named by his mother. She said a child with such a serious defect would need a powerful name like Moses, a name blessed by God. Extremely poor, his family didn’t have money to take Moses to the doctor; the cost of any surgery would have been more than they could have afforded. Moses attended school through the fifth grade then quit to help his father on the farm. He talked about not having friends because everyone laughed at his ugly face. He’d worked for construction companies most of his life and prided himself on always mixing the perfect batch of mortar for brick-layers. A kind, well-mannered gentleman, Moses never had even one Boss who tried to help correct his birth defect.
Moses described how, even today, younger children called him Monster Man and threw rocks at him. What really hurt to hear: Moses had never had a girlfriend. No woman wanted to be around him because of his deformity. In fact, in all his sixty seven years, Moses Dixon had never been intimate with a woman.
Sitting in the Clinic’s waiting room, I felt the stares. I sensed something more sinister than Moses’s deformity might be causing stares and critical looks. Maybe, for the first time, I knew how it felt to be a Black Man sitting next to a White Woman-- in a biased community. Looking around the waiting room at all the men and women holding babies, I realized everyone was white. I wanted to speak-out and say “Please stop staring. If it’s because I’m a white woman sitting with a black man, then know this:
It’s none of your business. Staring is rude for whatever reason. I’m sure my friend is accustomed to stares—he’s been stared at all his life. My friend, Moses, has known nothing but stares and emotional abuse since the day he was born. Are you critical because he’s a black man with a horrible disability, or because he’s the only black man in a waiting room full of only whites or, could it be you’re gawking because he’s sitting next to a white woman?!?!”
Feeling very protective of my new friend, I wanted to speak out, make a point, but instead, I stayed quiet. In a short time, the nurse took us to the examining room. After checking Moses and his vital signs, the doctor approved him for surgery. Five days later, Moses Dixon, a man who’d never seen a doctor or even been inside a hospital, had surgery. One day after the surgery, I visited Moses’s hospital room. Another patient shared the room with Moses and, being a white man, seemed to resent sharing a room with someone of color. I attempted to be friendly but, in return, received a cool reception.
I focused on Moses, sitting-up tall, in his hospital bed. I asked how he felt and Moses replied “I’m a little bit stiff and my mouth feels swollen. I think I sound pretty good, though. I hear myself talk and my words sound better.” I asked if he liked the way he looked and Moses said “I haven’t seen myself yet.” I handed a large hand-mirror to Moses and stepped back to watch his reaction. He stared into the mirror then put the mirror down and closed his eyes. After a few seconds, Moses put the mirror back to his face, looked at himself, and, in a quivering voice whispered “Hi, old Mo. I didn’t even recognize you, fellow.”
When he said that, the man in the other bed began crying; I could no longer hold back tears; and every nurse in the room burst out sobbing. Moses cried but he also praised God. He thanked God, outloud, promising to be a living testimony of God’s love.
Months later, looking at Moses Dixon, it was difficult to imagine that for 67 years, this handsome man lived with a severe cleft lip and palate. His new look gave him confidence and he walked the streets of Pine Bluff with a new pride. Because he sometimes had trouble believing the change in his appearance, Moses hung mirrors in every room of his tiny house. He admitted to looking in the mirror and sometimes crying but said—“They’re Happy Tears; My Tears Are Praise-the-Lord Tears!”
Follow-Up: The last time I talked with Moses, he was excited to tell me about his ministry, the success he’d had in sharing his personal story, and his joy at being able to sing God’s praises through song. He also mentioned meeting a woman at church, saying, they were now “best friends.”
Moses thanked me for being God’s messenger; for getting him the help he needed; and for being his friend. He said he prayed for me, day and night. Of course, his words made me cry. It’s not everyday someone says Thank You and remembers you in prayer.
Only two months after Moses miraculous surgery, St. Vincent’s Free Lip and Palate Clinic closed. As I always say, timing is everything. Years later, after being away from Pine Bluff much longer than before, I searched for Moses. His church had been torn down, and every contact I had for him was dead, including his best friend, L.E. Bradley. Eventually, without a trace of Moses, I ended my search. I take comfort in knowing that where ever he is, Moses Dixon is happy, at peace, and....smiling in the mirror.
Oscar Hammerstein, who wrote beautiful lyrics to wonderful melodies, said it best: “A Bell isn’t a Bell--- 'til you ring it; A Song isn’t a Song--- 'til you sing it. And, Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay; Love isn’t Love—’til you give it away.”
“Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect, and whistle a Happy Tune…..so no one will suspect—I’m Afraid.”
The wind was unforgiving and dark clouds were hanging low as I reached the top of one of China's highest mountains. Exhausted, I knew it was time to call-it-a-day. My watch read 5:00 PM but my body said it was much later, probably because of the early darkness.
As I unfolded my tent, I felt some concern that the strength of the wind could carry my tent--like a parasol--up and over the mountain’s edge. Making the decision to move closer to a small mountain of rocks for protection, I hurriedly connected the aluminum poles with the ground, hoisted the tent into place, and put my belongings inside.
Within minutes heavy rain began falling, forcing me inside for what appeared to be a black and stormy night. As the tent fluttered and swayed around me, I prayed my weight and my possessions—would be enough to anchor my nylon shelter.
Using my flashlight, I followed my commitment to write each day’s activities in my journal. Proudly, I entered today’s mileage of 36 miles, noting that most of those miles were uphill! While checking the map for tomorrow’s trek, I realized the sounds of rain—rhythmically dripping from the tent---had triggered my need to pee-pee.
What an inconvenient time for a bathroom call! Going outside on such a stormy dark night seemed too much of a challenge. Smiling, I thought--- if I had male parts, I could just open the tent flap, take aim-- and in a few minutes--be settled-in for the night.
But, thinking of the “what ifs” only prolonged the evitable. Taking a deep breath, I climbed out of the tent and into the riveting, cold rain, pulled down my tights and squatted. I made the bathroom visit as short as possible so I could return to the dryness of my tent.
Then, as I was zipping the tent’s flap closed--I heard it--a long-winded, high-pitched cry. It reminded me of a childhood visit to the St. Louis Z00, watching a tiger endlessly pacing back and forth, howling the same cry. There it was again, almost an anguished scream!
I panicked, realizing the cries were coming from a high place near the tent. The next cry seemed louder and closer. Cautiously, I pulled the zipper open on the tent flap and aimed my flashlight into the blackness. I slowly aimed my light on the rocks nearby-- then stopped.
There, encased in the light, were two slanted yellow eyes, a wide-opened mouth, and a full set of long, white, pointed teeth. Looking farther-down, I could see two muscular legs, dominating a platform of rock, approximately 15 feet above me. Temporarily stunned by the bright light, the massive black cat appeared statuesque, as if molded from black marble. I immediately turned off the flashlight and closed the flap, my brain wildly seeking solutions to the dilemma around me. I had to do something soon-- but what?
Remembering a picture book I’d seen of China’s famous animals, now extinct, I recognized the animal as either a Black Panther or Black leopard. Whichever, this was a dangerous animal that could destroy my shelter and me with one swipe of his powerful paw. Unprepared for such an encounter, I only had a whistle and a Swiss Army knife. My heart beating wildly, I reviewed my options.
For some crazy reason, I remembered the dogs in Beijing. Outside for a daily run, I often talked to the dogs in my usual “hi, sweet puppy, you are so cute,” voice but, unlike American Dogs who wanted me to pet them, the dogs in Beijing always squealed and ran away.
I laughingly remarked to one pet owner “I’m sorry your dog doesn’t speak English.” The same pattern kept repeating itself on my journey of The Great Wall. Entering villages in search of food and water, I tried to befriend village dogs but, they ran from me just like the dogs in Beijing. Dogs, everywhere, were always my friends.....but not in China! I knew this was a dangerous animal, certainly not the same challenge as a dog but--just maybe--my look, my smell, and my voice could scare him, much-like the Chinese dogs.
I unzipped the tent opening. The faint spotlight showed the unwelcome visitor now at ground level, only a few feet away. Placing the whistle to my mouth, I blew…again and again… with all the breath I could muster. The Leopard appeared startled and ran back to his rock perch. The slanted eyes never shifted from my face. Remembering the dogs, I tried talking in my usual “sweet baby” voice. The animal twisted his head from side to side, puzzled at the unfamiliar sounds.
Five minutes later, wet and cold, I clicked off the flashlight and closed the tent opening. Both frightened and cold, I shivered as I tucked my sleeping bag around me to consider my next plan. I would open the tent flap every ten minutes and, in addition to my “doggy” dialogue, I’d interject some singing and whistle-blowing. The idea would be to keep the animal startled, confused, never-knowing what to expect. I trembled like a convict strapped in the electric chair—knowing the warden was ready to pull the switch!
Sensing movement outside the tent, I didn’t have a minute to spare. The animal had climbed from his ledge and joined me….with only a wall of polyester between us. I began singing, moving the flashlight above me, all around me. On and on I sang-hymns, show tunes, even nursery rhythms. I alternated with whistle blowing and hand clapping-- anything to keep the powerful, black animal confused and off-center. I both heard and felt him as he brushed the tent walls with his strong body but I never stopped---- entertaining.
At some point during the endless night, the sounds stopped--the tent ceased to move, like the animal had left but…. had he? Thinking he might be trying to “outfox” me, I continued to perform until the rain ended, the winds died, and the rising sun topped the mountain.
Stepping outside my shelter into the daylight, I saw evidence of the Leopard, everywhere. The ground was covered with overlapping paw prints and the tent’s sides were smeared in a muddy design – like a kindergarten class’s finger-painting display. What a night! After that incident, I never took my safety for granted-- ever again. I adopted the motto: In China, always expect the unexpected.
PS. When my journey of The Great Wall ended, I lectured at Beijing University, sharing many of my experiences on China’s beloved Great Wall. The highlight of my lecture was the night I spent with the Black Leopard.
Soon after my talk, a professor mailed me a Beijing newspaper clipping that appeared while I was journeying the Great Wall. The front page article stated: “Black Leopards, once believed extinct, have been sighted in the mountains of North China. Rare sightings of Black Leopards have also been reported by villagers living near The Great Wall.”
LIVING WITH PAIN CAN—OVERTIME--- DULL THE HURT TO THE POINT WHERE---YOU EVENTUALLY ACCEPT IT AND—SIMPLY-- LIVE WITH IT. IN ELEVEN YEARS--- I'VE MOVED SO-FAR BEYOND THE PAIN-----IT NO-LONGER EXISTS.
During my lifetime, I’ve experienced the human suffering of others. I've cared for disabled orphans in China, volunteered to feed very-old street people in Atlanta, taught mentally disturbed youth in the DC Jail, tutored six year old sex offenders, and--until recently-- taught children with severe disabilities.
IT WAS ONLY WHEN MY TWO DAUGHTERS--children I carried in my body—THEN-- in my heart--chose to abandon me--- that I understood the meaning of the phrase “A lifetime of Loss.” My loss is permanent. Yes, I have become close, intimate friends with--- loss.
There are various kinds of pain but, over-time, I’ve learned about personal pain---pain that involves the most sensitive parts of the heart. Personal Pain can’t be treated with medicine-- or bed rest-- or emotional/physical therapy. Time may lessen the pain but its after-effects never go away. Since my life’s been stored in boxes for so many years-- due to endless moves and re-locations—it’s no coincidence that an empty box led to my salvation.
Years ago, while living in Atlanta, I took classes in Visualization. I learned the mind has amazing powers, undeveloped potential, and can serve us in ways that medicines, drugs, and psychiatry, are unable to do. Time passed and, eventually, I re-visited the art of Visualization. Some call it “mind over matter” but--regardless of what you chose to call it-- I’m satisfied with the results.
Very simply: I picture myself/ visualize myself ( in color), lifting all the pieces of my heavy and painful loss---including--long-ago pictures, memories, letters, spoken words, clippings, items of clothing, smiles, tears ----- and place them into a large and empty white box. I tuck clean white tissue paper around and on-top of all the items before securing the box with clear, heavy tape.
Finally, I choose a permanent red marker to draw a large red heart on the box before writing a message inside the heart:
OWNER’S INSTRUCTIONS: PLEASE DO NOT OPEN OR SHARE UNTIL AFTER MY DEATH.