Today is day one of a new endeavor, but yet, none of this is really new to me at all. I am writing to you from a hotel room in Orlando, anxiously awaiting the start of a class that will certify me to become a mental health first aid trainer.
The flight down from New York was simple but strange. But yet, I’m here now, breathing in the southern air with palm trees and colorful sunsets like the one from last night, to which I looked at and said “Ah,” because it was nice to see.
I am not sure what this class entails but yet, does anyone ever know what anything entails at the beginning?
Safe to say, I have my old fears and concerns to contend with when it comes to a new learning experience.
This hotel room will be my makeshift home for the next few days. And I will learn and I will study. I will make the best of this occasion because, oh yes, I believe this is an occasion.
There is something unmistakable about the Florida sun and the feel I have when emptying from the plane. There are memories —of course there are, of me, long ago, heading down to Florida much more often than I do now.
I would come down to see my Mother in her little apartment with her little dog, Selena, named by a Mexican woman that owned the dog prior to my Mother, but sadly, could not keep her.
Mom was south of where I am now, about a three and a half hour drive, if I’m not mistaken.
Selena was a good dog, old, but cute; affectionate as ever. Selena always sat by Mom and slept beside Mom as well. Her head always anxious to be pet. Her attitude always anxious to be acknowledged with little treats, the kind that make all dogs go wild or do little tricks, like say, “Give me paw,” or “Sit.”
To be honest, I cannot say the last time I recall being in Orlando. It was years ago, decades almost, and my reason for being here was much different.
But yet, maybe the reason was the same—to heal, to learn how to improve, and hopefully, with all my heart, help others to help themselves.
My last trip down to Orlando was perhaps one of the most life altering events—not because I was in Disney, not because this was the last trip I took in an ex-life with an ex-wife, which it was, and I was in fact at the tail end of a wrongful marriage with this being the last effort to repair what was unfortunately and unalterably broken; however, and more to the point, my memory draws a line to a specific moment at the tail end of the trip.
It was the mother of my child and me, standing on line, waiting for such a long time to take a simple picture.
The pictures eventually were done, but the end result did not come without problems. Instead, we were reintroduced to the line, which is where I met a little boy that taught me my biggest lesson of all times.
Although, yes, I was in the “Happiest” place of all times, on vacation, and everything about me was physically fine, —the trip however, was cold and loveless. Each day was etched with an argument about something that was more about the common resentment than anything real or significant.
And then I met a little boy.
He was sick with cancer, only, the sickness never stole the miracle of his precious little smile. He was happy. He was facing a treatment schedule that was perhaps unlike anything I could possibly imagine —and yet, he was happy.
There was nothing sour about him. There was no ungratefulness. There was only joy and sweet anxiousness to enjoy every moment he spent on this day.
I recall this boy in my mind’s eye and see him as he was, cheeks like a chubby little cherub, freckled, missing a tooth, blue-eyed, red-lipped, and happy with a shirt on that said, “Make a wish.”
This young boy taught me a lesson. And I swore to him (although he doesn’t know this) that he gave me something, which means I owe, which means I have to repay this kindness and pay this forward, from now until the hour of my death, (Amen).
Today is day one: Mental Health First Aid Instructor Training.
This is also another day that I am allowed the chance to repay that little boy for the love he taught me to have.
Who knows what miracles await us today?
But I’m anxious to find out