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  • I woke up with the blues today. A morning started with a bunch of why me’s? It kept me in bed for an hour after I woke. Why me? Why me? Why me? I thought after Jon died that there was going to be some kind of reprieve, some kind of treat. However, instead I have been hit with a string of disappointments and shitty events culminating in an attempted murder and rape and a backlash from a third world community that seems to treasure their legacy of women hate…

    I am a blonde American woman on her own with a mind of her own… and I have learned in my travels that these characteristics make me one of the most hated species on the face of this earth…so how am I to proceed? This is where my head goes on mornings like this.

    I try to talk myself out of it. These blues are a result of the crime; I haven’t felt feelings lie this since I was in my teens; so, I guess it is the depression that is mentioned in the things I have read about the aftermath of rape. Whatever the case, I don’t like feeling like this; it is not my way.

    I tell myself the things I am grateful for…my friends, my job, my house, my place in the world, but the blues get me still on mornings like this. I miss Jon so much. I wander how he went through all he did. How did he not just give in to the darkness of his fate of having a cancer that was definitely going to kill him? How did he get the hell out of bed?

    These questions free me long enough to get to the closet where I keep my clothes…what should I wear? Do I even really care anymore? I push the clothes aside. This is when I see it somewhere hanging with my skirts, …Jon’s robe, the one he wore every day when he woke up; the one he wore every night; the one that he died in on that December night. I have kept that robe with me in my travels down to this Bolivia place, but I looked at it lately, in fact it has been months.

    I am surprised by my reaction to seeing his robe. I grab it and push it to my face.

    “Can I smell him? Can I smell him still?” I rub the robe across my nose and something faintly smells of him still, a smell of comfort mixed in with mildew as if the robe had been left in the rain. I stand there for a minute, smelling the robe and a few tears escape me…these are moments that only widows can understand and these moments are overwhelming at times, moments that make me want to swim in tears and get back into bed but then my eyes land on that damn pin and suddenly, a smile escapes me.

    “Oh, that pin!” I say it aloud.

    It is a yellow pin with a rainbow emerging from two rainclouds. I saw it the first day I saw Jon don his robe, but thought little of it. Jon always had strange things on him. He would often place glitter on his skin and say things like,

    “Do you notice anything special about me?” he would wink.

    I would look him up and down trying to figure out what he was trying to point out, but I would give up and shake my head. Then, he would do a funky finger move that he used to point and he would motion my eyes towards a glitter patch on his hand or foot.

    “I put glitter on...just for you…do you like?” Then, he would tilt it in the sun and say things like, “Don’t you think it makes me twinkle?”

    I would have to laugh…never in my life had some guy worn glitter to win my heart…most would consider this some kind of questionable behavior from a heterosexual man and be fearful of such things, but not Jon, the man who once said the best way to survive a prison rape would be to simply,

    “Lean in and act like you enjoy it. That will mess with everyone’s heads.”

    He was not uncomfortable about his sexual identity; He had bigger fish to fry like a gigantic tumor on the left lobe of his brain, so his focus was on how to survive.

    No one really knew how he survived for over 25 years with a terminal tumor in his head. His doctors would simply shake their heads and tell him that he was one for the books and if he ever does, it is important for its author to know about Jon’s pin.

    Jon must have worn that robe around me a million times until I knew the story of this pin. I think he was in the hospital when he did and when he did, the story went like this.

    Jon’s life had been going wonderfully for years. He was at the top of his game, married to a beautiful woman, beautiful kids, beautiful house…the whole nine yards…when suddenly, his cancer came back tenfold…his brain was full of blood and the doctors said that Jon may be within days of his death. Jon laid in that hospital room and really learned to pray. During this stint, his little girl came to visit him; she couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3 at the time but, like Jon, she is a person wise beyond her years and she loved her dad with all her might.

    The way Jon told the story is that his little girl climbed into his hospital bed and they began to snuggle when all of a sudden, she took out this pin and pinned it upside down. Jon smiled and told her thank you and he started to take it off to put it right side up. His daughter stopped him and whispered not to do that. She told him that she pinned it upside down, so that he could look at it when he was sad rather than have other people see it correctly.

    “”It is for you to look at and get happy, not for other people.”

    He was taken aback, touched beyond words and so, he never, never moved the pin from where his little girl pinned it and there is where the pin is to this day.

    I would notice the pin over the years with Jon. I noticed that he would touch it when he would get wheeled out of his hospital rooms to get this test and that; I would notice him looking at it on days when he was feeling down and every time he would look at it, a smile would cross his face.

    The pin worked; it made Jon happy despite the hell that was going on around him and he went on to live more than 10 years after this event.

    Looking at the pin today, in my shitty mood, I too can’t help but smile as well as be blown away because I have just learned a new term called neuroplasticity in my own quest to heal.

    Neuroplasticity is the capability of the brain to create and change connections and patterns, to rebuild and update its networks of neurons or brain cells and it has become a hot bed of research with neuroscientists. This research suggest that a person can rewire their brains towards conditions that are favorable and when they are able to do this, evidence suggests that overall health occurs.

    In one study, neurosciences had a stroke victim undergo a variety of neuroplasticity to work around the damaged parts of the brain and the result was success; the victim regained their physical well being by opening up new connections within the brain stem.

    One of the exciting things about neuroplasticity is that scientists have found that happiness actually makes neuroplasticity improve…the brain is more readily rewired if it is in the state of happiness. I sure hope that the doctors that put Jon in their books consider this because although Jon nor his little girl had no concept of neuroplasticity, they just knew on an instinctual level that happy was good and subsequently, gifts that his little girl gave him probably lengthened his life because it allowed Jon to rewire his brain to work around the tumor rather than be destroyed by it.

    I touch that pin this morning and remember all of this. I have been given quite a cross to bear and one of the results of this is I am going to have to face what it feels like to be a rape victim and part of that is there are times that I will get depressed; however, what those rapists and the pueblo where they were reared and trained didn’t reckon is that the dumb blonde Gringa bitch they attacked that night had had one hell of a teacher whose lessons are everywhere even in something trivial like this robe and pin.

    This is when I begin to smile; I can do this; I think of Jon and what he would do, and what he would do is this…he wouldn’t dwell in what the world wasn’t giving him because all the world never gave Jon was hell, but instead of focusing on this, he would glide across the floor to put some glitter on or his silly robe and turn around and say this,

    “Put your happy on!”

    So, that’s what I will try today…life isn’t working out the way I want it to, so it’s up to me to get around this head where these demons dance and I can’t do that by laying in my bed, so I force myself back to the closet and pull out a pair of fluffy boots, the ones that make me smile…I have already seen this save a life, so I would be laughing in the face of scientific evidence to think that this will not save my soul.

    So if you excuse me now, it’s time for me to put my happy on and pray for the rest.
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