To Touch, to Hear, to Live, to Play

A year or two ago, I started writing a post about falling in love at first meeting. You know, you meet somebody, and in just a minute or two, you feel a connection in your soul, and you think, “I love this person.” Well, the reveal at the end of the post was that I was writing about a little girl who was about six years old at the time, and who happens to be blind. She calls herself “Yozzie,” although I have no idea what her real name is or how I’m supposed to spell her preferred nickname.

Whenever I’m in the correct mood, which is to say I’m not in a hurried and/or self-absorbed state of mind, I try to kneel down when I talk to little kids. I like to be on their level physically, because it helps to put us on the same level in other ways. They know I care enough to be right there with them on their terms, and I’m forced to be so. (Try it sometime. It works.) So on this particular day, I knelt in front of this little blind girl, we talked for a few moments, and she held out her hands to touch me. She even asked first, which I’m going to guess is a point of etiquette she’d been taught. So she placed her little hands on my shoulders, my chest, my neck and the sides of my face. Maybe she wanted to know what I looked like in her mind, or maybe she was just trying to remember me. Or both. But, what really amazed me was how much different it felt to be touched by this little blind child than to be touched by anybody else. I really, truly felt like she was seeing me. It was one of the most careful, thoughtful, gentle touches I’ve ever experienced. It was beautiful. I doubt I’ll ever forget it.

I have a very, very soft spot in my heart for the way that life always strives to find a way to keep living; to make the most of whatever it has been allotted in life. I’ve written about it before, and I hope to write more about it in the coming months. But for the purposes at hand, I’ll just say that it is all the more moving to me when it involves the youngest among us, those who in the prime of their innocence and hope find their own paths in life—sometimes more meandering by necessity, and perhaps sometimes more direct than the rest of us; distracted less, I suppose, by the trivial and mundane. And so, I’ve summarized two posts here tonight.

Before leaving with those two summaries, I’ll end with a third. I want to say thanks to the life of Jeff Healey, who died this month at the tender age of forty-one. More than forty years earlier, Jeff lost his eyes to a rare ocular cancer. A blind toddler, Jeff went on to learn to play the guitar, starting at the age of three. Whether he was self-taught or not, I don’t know, and can only guess. He learned to play famously, play well, and play uniquely—with the guitar resting flat on his lap. To me, it’s one of those seemingly simple things—a thing about innocence, about hope, about chasing what you love, and about how life finds a way for itself. ( If you want to see Jeff play, here’s a cover I like.)

Jeff, thanks for the music, man. And Yozzie, wherever you are, I wish you the greatest of life’s joys. I pray that you find a way for yourself; a wondrous path that shines brightly and beautifully in the lives of all those you touch. Meeting you was a gift, and I love you.

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