Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Crying Child

Sent this letter to one of my professors two years ago and it is both uplifting and heart breaking.  
25th November of 2010

Hay Doc,

It's thanksgiving and I'm stuck at home, but it gives me time to shoot off and email I've been meaning to send. I thought you might get a kick out of knowing that I sent my essay to a friend of mine who had some trouble in the love department. By trouble I mean her husband ran off with every dime she had then she had to sue him to end the marriage. After that she got beaten by her boyfriend and so on. Sad how afoul follows you in life.

So I sent her my essay one and she got a sense of satisfaction out of it. She kept asking herself why she didn't leave either of those two men sooner and my essay gave her and answer. It's not the best answer that our studies this semester can give, but like a firefly in the darkness it gave her a friendly light.

I don't suppose you'd know how much the small things can mean to those of us who live our lives in the nether of the human experience. Well, let me tell you a story. When I was seventeen I was over at a friend's house when I heard a baby crying. As an act of instinct I picked up the child. He wasn't yet three days old but he had a set of lungs on him. I couldn't feel anything in the diaper so he hadn't soiled himself. It didn't appear as though he was hungry. Can't tell you how I knew that, but I did.

I stroked the boy's cheek with my index finger and blew air in his face only to have him stop crying for a moment then go on again. Rose, it was her house and I was a friend of her son, came in and said “you'll make a wonderful father some day.”

“I don't think so,” I told her. “I can't get him to stop crying.”

“No one can, Richard,” Rose told me. “That baby was born addicted to cocaine.”

Thing is that the essay to my friend is like my breath to the baby. It may have given her no more than a moment of peace in the deluge of suffering that is her life, but a moment can mean a lot. That's kind of the difficulty of clinical Psychology, it is impossible to take the patient out of the toxic environment, one can only aid them in finding peace within themselves.

I didn't want to mention this before you graded the paper so it wouldn't look like I was trying to get a better grade, but I felt you'd like to know.

Happy thanksgiving

Richard Leland Neal