Tuesday, May 29, 2012


"The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why." ~ Mark Twain

A couple of weeks ago I received an email that threw me into an emotional tailspin.  One so turbulent that I have not been able to regain my balance.  This was a letter from someone who, for all intents and purposes, should know me better than anyone else on earth, but apparently has not a clue who I am.

The sentence simply said, "You are a soul that will never heal, that is why you do so much."  This comes from a person who has never, nor ever will, walk in my shoes. This person could not possibly know me because the ability to feel what I feel is quite simply not a part of who they are. I have wanted to place some time between reading those words and actually trying to put my feelings to paper.  But it seemed apparent that there has not been enough time.

Until last night!  Memorial Day at the Warrior Family Support Center.  Hundreds of wounded warriors came in the front door, some with young wives pushing their wheel chairs and children hanging on,  to share a meal with their 'brothers'.  Hamburgers and hot dogs were the fare.  My therapy dog, Kelsie, and I stood proudly at the large wooden doors to welcome the warriors and to thank them for their sacrifices.  Some of their faces were telling stories. Some expressionless and blank, some smiles, some grim, some angry, some I wanted to remember forever, and some whose pain cut me to the core.  While the expressions showed me who they were at that moment they didn't tell me who they were as a person. 

As many times as I have been in that building over the past many years, visiting severe burn survivors, multiple amputees, and warriors with such deep internal scars you wonder if they will ever survive them, I find each visit more explanatory as to why I do what I do. I do what I do, not because I am a 'lost soul' but because I have a passion, a God given passion to do what I do.  It feeds my soul more than anything I have ever, or will ever do. What I give, I give from my heart, from a place deep inside.  What I give, I give because I am a human being and that is why we have all been placed on this earth...to ease the pain of others.  Not to nurture our own.

"A soul that will never heal."  It keeps reverberating in my head.  I can't get it to go away.

As I watched literally dozens and dozens of warriors, wheelchair bound, with no legs, some with no arms and several with no legs and only one arm or partial arm, I felt a pride and a gratitude for being able to be there for them, as they were there for me, for us.  A pride and yet a sadness that I had to be there at all.  What is this thing called war all about? 

There were several warriors there with terrific injuries from Georgia...just below Russia.  Here they were in the United States, with no knowledge whatsoever of the language, armed solely with an interpreter, totally befuddled as to why there were dogs there.  They came quietly to eat and leave...and as the interpreter and his warriors were leaving he said with a smile to find 'Jack'...meaning a wee bit of bourbon!

As Mark Twain said in the quote above one of the most important days in your life is the day you find out why you were born.  I know why I was and why my soul runneth over.

 Yesterday and all the days before with my warriors and all the days to come with them are why I was born.  I have spent 35+ years doing animal assisted therapy with my beloved pets, founding four different animal therapy organizations.  Each visit with each patient is a gift I bring to them in the form of a furry friend.  There are smiles, there are tears, there are memories of the past, there are moments of great sadness and joy for the patients.  And in the process this feeds my soul.  So to that person that says my soul will never heal....they don't have a clue what having a soul that is so full of gratitude and joy and love is like. 

My soul flows over daily with my patients and warriors.  To be able to do what I do is a blessing I shall cherish the rest of my life. This is why I do what I do.  To make a difference in people's lives, to change moments of misery into moments of hopefulness. It just can't get any better.  I have been given a special gift by God to do what I do, to endure the stories of war or courage and bravery from warriors with no ears or faces, to hold the hand of a woman whose son just died from severe burn injuries, to hold a woman I have never seen or will never see again, as she goes to her daughter's funeral holding her grandbabies by their hands, to sit and listen to a medic tell me of what he witnessed and actions he had to take, to hear a military working dog handler tell me of the pain he holds in his heart when his dog was killed when an IED hit their vehicle, to read a story to a little girl with my Kelsie's head in her lap when she tells me how her daddy killed her mommy, to see the sparkle return, if only for a moment in a warrior's eye when he reaches from his wheelchair to pet my Kelsie with such love and tenderness, all the while holding back the tears, to receive daily letters from warriors on the brink of suicide. 

Do not tell me "I" have a soul that will never heal. I too have endured misery, hate, venomous spiteful lies told about me and still do to this day.  But to hell with them.  To hell with what people think or feel about me.  What I do is the right thing.  The only thing, the God given gift I have to give. My soul is full of love for the people and the good that I do, the sacrifices I make to do what I do and for the lives that I am blessed to be able to touch.

So today, I let it go!  I let go of the words that hurt. Today I let go, because I know why I was born.  I wonder if they know why they were born.

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