Tina strolls leisurely along the lake boardwalk with her happy little dog whose pink satin bow bounces with attitude as she leads Tina. Someone has to lead because Tina is intensely focused on the book she is reading.
When I saw Tina in the elevator yesterday I felt a burst of radiant well-being emanate from her. Light showcased clear brown eyes highlighted by tastefully applied makeup. Her long auburn hair fell loosely around shoulders pulled straight by some unseen string from above. Tears of joy waited for release as the realization emerged- Tina was well.
Focusing on a book was something Tina couldn’t do very well when she first moved into my apartment building. I would see her strolling around the grounds with her Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, sometimes twice in one day. She walked bent over, studying the ground as if expecting it to swallow her up at any minute. Her face was contorted and conversation resembled a rapid staccato frenzie of unrelated words.
Standing upright a year later, Tina has become for me an icon of what the human spirit can do. Witnessing her noble struggle has been a spiritual practice which reminds me how to reach down and pull out the strength to go on, the strength to survive and then to thrive. She is a monument to the art of letting go.
I am grateful to Tina, to my brave niece and to thousands of others, for showing me how to let go.