Monday, June 24, 2013

Fear of Flying.

My son Zachary. . .flying. . .

If I can see it
then I can do it
if I just believe it
there's nothing to it

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door

I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly.

~ Robert Kelly

I saw this young person recently who was broken. His life had been hard and the childhood that he'd recently left behind was still covered with soot and grime. His eyes were laced with tears and shadows from years and years of crying himself a river of muffled lullabies in dark rooms.

"You need help," I said. "I'm so glad you came today because you need help."

And, see, that battered up child was still there. Right in front of me. Cringing in a corner and conflicted about what "help" even meant. But it was obvious that this encounter wasn't by accident. At least, it wasn't to me.

"I'll be okay." Those were the words I heard slipping out of his lifeless mouth. They were so tiny, so defeated and anemic.

"I worry that you won't be."

"I will be, though. I have no choice but to be."

And something about that broke my heart into a million pieces. That young face so pristine yet so damaged. I kept looking and noticing. I saw perfect lines on a forearm telling even more of that story of self hatred and self mutilation. I felt my eyes beginning to sting and my face warming up. I knew. I knew then I needed to push.

"Let me tell you something." His eyes widened at that statement. Like he wasn't sure what was about to happen next. "Listen to me. You deserve to be happy. You are worth the help someone has to offer you. You are. I know sometimes you might not feel that way but you are." I patted my chest. "I don't deserve to be happy any more than you do. You are . . . you are worth it. Worth whatever effort it will take to get you what you need."

Every time I said those words "worth it" his face crinkled. His eyes were squeezed tight and it looked like he wanted to shake his head no. Like hearing a person telling you lies that you don't want to hear. The more I spoke, the more he did that. Eventually a rush of tears pushed out onto his cheeks. One after the next.

"Please. Believe me when I say that, okay? You are worth our time and our attention. Let us get you some help. Please."

And you know what? That's exactly what happened. A door opened. And someone walked through it finally unafraid. Or maybe still afraid but at least he walked through. One step closer to the help he so clearly needed and deserved.

No. This doesn't mean that all of those demons have disappeared. It doesn't at all. But I know for certain that you have to start somewhere.

Me? I start with trying to see myself in my patient's eyes. Nothing is more important to me than mattering. Nothing at all. So on this day I tried to give my patient what my parents gave to me. And what they taught me to give to my own children. A belief that I could fly.

How? With eyes full of expectation and triumph. A listening ear and a soft, patient expression. And especially, a reminder that each person deserves these things just as much as anyone else.

Including me.

I hope my patient knew. I hope he knew that I truly believed that, with a chance, he could fly. My prayer tonight is that someday he believes it, too.


See, I was on the verge of breaking down
Sometimes silence can seem so loud
There are miracles in life I must achieve
but first I know it starts inside of me

If I can see it
then I can do it
if I just believe it
there's nothing to it

I believe I can fly. . . .

~ from "I believe I can fly."


Happy Monday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . something about my patient made me hear this all day.


  1. I would love to know the rest of this story. Is he actually getting help? What little money I have this is how I like to spend it...on individuals needing help...not gigantic charities that have more money than they know what to do with...

    1. This story is told many times over at Grady, my friend. It is. But we try one step at a time, we do.

  2. Bless you and your heart and your knowledge of when to push.

  3. Yes, bless your great big beautiful heart. xo

  4. I believe you may be a Night Angel.

    1. That sounds like something beautiful to be. Thank you, Rebecca. I appreciate your encouragement.

  5. Making me cry too. May he get the help he needs and deserves and come to believe in his own worth.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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