want to grieve. want to open up my soul and spew all the pain out. Too many deaths lately. Too many deaths who reach in and yanked my guts out. Too many who are echoing within. endless ripples causing waves in my mental pond.
I am unsure how to process Richard's.
I saw him last about 10 years ago at the market. I saw him first and carefully avoided him. Mindful of his role in my life.
Flashing back to the day in therapy where I was trying to convince him that my self injury was okay and not something that we should be trying to stop.
He said quietly, "I am not your friend, I am your councilor, it would be remiss for me not to call you on that damaging thought pattern."
I sat up eyes blazing and sassily countered back. "You're my employee. I hired you. That makes me the boss."
His body crinkled up like a overly excited dog as he giggled and twisted in his chair. His reaction disarmed the tension and I joined him in a fit of giggling.
He was so much more then "my employee." His presence in my life was soul changing on a deep deep level. I am alive today because of him.
I am alive today because of him.
The therapeutic relationship is a strange thing. He is the only person on the planet who knows everything that I lived though. Only one who met and has spoken with all of my fragment's. Yet he is not my friend. He is not my peer. Our relationship was not equal. The care and compassion were genuine from him....akin to a spiritual father. Unconditional. Yet I couldn't return it.
Arrived one session to be met only by Ramsey his collie in the parking lot.
"Where is Ra?" I ask him as I petted his long face.
Ramsey groaned deep in his throat and headed to the office with me. I opened the door to find Richard sprawled on the lobby couch looking pale and very ill.
My instinct was to go check him for a fever and send him home. But instead I froze in the doorway. That would have changed the nature of the therapeutic relationship if I did that. It would have been inappropriate on my part to blur the clearly set boundaries.
"You look sick." I stammered off guard in this change to the usual routine. I slowly stepped in and let the dog in with me. "Do you have any clients to see after me?" I finally said.
He sat up slowly, and replied. "No."
I waffled in crushing pain. Part of me wanted to tell him to go home, my madness would wait until next week. But the other part of me the one with the knife, and urge to gut my self that day, needed desperately his help to disarm the situation. I looked down at Ramsey who was still at my side, and petted him as my insides churned, unable to say anything.
He saw the conflict on my face and got off the couch and headed to the office. "I promise to go straight home after our session."
And he did. He saved my life that day all while sick as a dog and running a high fever.
That day I saw him in the market, was so strange. To see him after so long. My inners, the children of Starr wanted to run up and fling their arms around him and hug him. Yet I was mindful of the boundaries still lingering in place.
I did my shopping all while avoiding him.
I waited until he was checking out and busy bagging his groceries. Before I allowed my self, from a distance, to step into his line of site.
His eyes lite up instantly as his face smiled broadly. I said nothing, but returned the big smile. I then leaned over and scooped up my son and held him up so Richard could see him. My son threw his arms around my neck and kissed me.
Richard face changed.
Oh you big fat liar.
You too are my friend.
That look. That unarmed from the soul look of pure joy, to see me, the messed up child who he helped to live, grow up to be a mother. To see the end result of his hard work and invaluable help.
No words were exchanged.
I set my son back down. Looked back at Richard's tear filled eyes and bowed respectfully to him. Then left before I too joined him in the teary department. The last time we had corresponded prior to that time I had just updated him on my marriage. I loved that I was able to surprise him.
I want to share his last letter to me. But first I must explain the opening statement from him. A joke between us dating back to the 80's.
When I first started therapy he had a note pad an explained he would take notes the first session and none after that. He stayed true to his word. He had an phenomenal memory for details.
Except for my feet.
I stopped wearing shoes to our session one March and didn't start wearing them again November that year. On/ about October in that time frame he mentioned my bare feet.
"Shoeless today eh?"
What? how had he missed this detail? I sly smiled. "I think you should get your glasses prescription checked, I stopped wearing shoes last march."
"What?" he sheepishly chuckled. "no..."
"perhaps you should get your note pad back out, so you don't forget me." I giggled. "My name is Paja, its nice to meet you."
"I could never forget you Paja." he said as he sat forward and gave me his full attention.
"Your going to forget me, I just know it." I laughed.
"Not a chance, your are my only shoeless client."
We laughed till our sides hurt and then got down to business.
In November when the weather turned and I put shoes on again he started that session by taking his glass off and cleaning them. As he did so, he said aloud as if mussing, "Darn things, need to get a new prescription, these are making me see shoes..."
Forgetting me an endless joke between us. Even after therapy stopped.
My kids book on self injury is co-dedicated to him.
My next book will be dedicated to him as well. He also will be weaved forever into the "forest story" that is the subject of said book. I want to share the presence of this remarkable man with all my readers.
I attended his memorial last month. And I got an unexpected surprise.
I was freaked the heck out of course because I had to go alone, and that always spiked my anxiety. To be among a crowd of people I don't know has the way of making me a self conscious nutty mess.
I took my Ativan with me incase I needed it. But I was determined to use every last skill he had taught me and not take any.
I got to meet his daughter. It was amazing to see the incredible young woman she had grown into. I had "met" her years prior as I could hear her in the back ground the few times Richard and I conversed after hours on the phone.
The memorial pamphlet, they had printed up, gave me an incredible gift.
It has always gnawed at my soul that he saw me all those years for $10 a session then later $15 a session when I could afford to give him a raise.
I have kept a tally of $$$ that I owe him in the back of my head all these years. Knowing if I ever had the chance I would repay him.
What I read on the pamphlet zero out that balance.
It mentioned he loved to run on the beach at Bandon.
As we were both runners, we talked about it often. I am the one who told him about Bandon and Bullard's Beach. I even told him what camp sites gave access to the dunes. About the paved path from the campsites to the long beach, and how to sneak past the gate and access the top of the lighthouse. How if you ran early in the morning to watch the sea foam on the beach for glass balls that came over from Japan on the tides....and the sand dollars, and how it was a good run if you came back a few sand dollars richer.
His eyes had lite up like a child's at Christmas. His last words on the subject were. "I am going to check that out!"
He gave me enough slack in the rope that I could slip out and not hang my self...and I gave him something so important that it was mentioned at his memorial.
I spoke at the memorial. Well more accurately The children of Starr did. Screw you anxiety, our love of Ra is more powerful then you are.
My courage failed when we moved up to eat and write on balloons to send off our last messages. I beat a hasty retreat to cry alone in the truck.
I know what I would have written on my balloon.
Side one would have been from The children of Starr:
"Don't eat popsicles in the snow" love Ste
we's loves you Ra, ettgibbneraundy - Tcos
and the other side would have been from me.
ettgibbneraundy indeed my friend.
"I am not your friend"
Oh you big fat liar.
You too are my friend.