Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I read an interesting line in a book quite late last night, "I was drawn to places of suffering that surpassed my own."  It hit me - perhaps I do that as well. And perhaps I always have.  I haven't done this as a conscious rational decision, nor from a place of any great self awareness.

I remember none of my childhood. Strange.  I remember no happiness, no smiles, no joy, and certainly no sitting at a table eating a meal with my parents and no love.  But from the time I could remember, I was hungry.  Hungry to be loved, to be accepted as I was, and primarily to be of use to others suffering that had been left in those cold and lonely places we often find ourselves. Places that were, and sometimes still are, all too familiar to me. I didn't want others to feel like I did. I wanted to ease their suffering.

I have felt small, insufficient and lost most of my life.  The feeling of not really knowing why I was here and taking what each day had to offer and 'going with it.' I have been a woman injured deeply by the men in my life, memories of abandonment and pain are my closest friends, and  yet a twenty plus career in television, radio and print media and as an author, thrust me into the limelight and a public dimension I was never sure I liked, nor felt comfortable. 

You see, I do best in the trenches, working behind the scenes, striving to make the lives of struggling fellow human beings not quite so painful and full of grief.  Sometimes I feel as if I am as squashed as are they.  Sometimes the face I paint on is as full of pain as is theirs.  But despite my life and my pain which is insignificant really, I am making a difference.

Sunday at the deployment of the 162nd Medical Unit of the Texas National Guard in the shadow of the Alamo, I cannot tell you, for I lost count, how many of the troops came up to me and thanked me from a place deep inside of themselves, for being able to provide them with a 'therapy dog' in Iraq while they are deployed.

I found this intense gratitude almost outrageously out of place.  I should be the one thanking them.  Thanking them for putting themselves in 'harm's way.'  Thanking them for leaving their families and jobs and lives to go to fight for my freedom and ability to write these words and to live in this country that is today full of the rebirth of Spring and thunderous displays of patriotic red, white, and blue wildflowers - and hope and faith and love.

Providing these soldiers with a therapy dog to snuggle, and talk to, and cry with, play with, and find extraordinary comfort and a touch of home with is my gift to them. My gift to these young men and women who have volunteered to leave all they have known to stand up for a country that is enormously grateful for their sacrifices. It is also a gift from http://www.vetdogs.org/  and Jim Mathys at America's VetDogs.  For without their help, and without the belief and support of Brigadier General Stevens, in the mission of Penny's From Heaven Foundation, Inc., none of this would have been possible. My undying gratitude to them. We shall perhaps never see what this four footed therapist in Iraq will mean to our soldiers, to their well being, to their hearts, and to their daily struggles to survive, save lives, and to protect us. But we will know.  Deep inside we will know.  For me personally this is an achievement of a lifetime!  Thank you America's VetDogs and General Stevens from our troops and from me.

It remains unnerving and disturbing for the troops to be thanking me.  I didn't and don't understand.  I have been but the catalyst. 

I guess what I am saying is that we all suffer, and yet we can all have the capabilities to be a catalyst for change - a catalyst for making a difference in this world and in the lives of its inhabitants, if only we take a step and rise to the occasion. It doesn't matter where we do it or under what circumstances.  All that matters is that we do it!

Brotherhood and comraderie in life and in war are paramount.  So I will graciously accept their gratitude, and I hope and pray that all eighty two of them know that I am, and will always be, their 'battle buddy' back here in the states, defending what they are doing.  Spirit never dies.  These young men and women are going to save lives, see and experience unspeakable things, and return to us different people.  But for a few moments they will have an America's VetDog therapy dog to remind them of why they are there and to bring them the love and support of those of us waiting at home for their safe return. 

Godspeed!  You are in my prayers.


To help us help and be the catalyst for change, I invite and encourage you to contribute to:

100% of your tax deductible charitable contributions will go to help our soldiers.

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