Carry My Brother

Carry My Brother

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Back Pain!

Carry My Brother

As an eighteen-year-old college student, being frugal was vital, so I had rushed over to the flashing blue light that indicated purses were drastically reduced. I didn’t quite make it to the blue light, although I could see it from where I lay flat out on the cold floor as other shoppers walked over me. My back had given out one more time. I was in good shape, young, and healthy otherwise, but my back had carried more than its share of weight in my young life and it was beginning to fail me.

My younger brother Scott could not walk or talk due to his cerebral palsy. I loved Scott dearly and carried him wherever I could, including playgrounds, mountaintops, and church. This was back in the 1960’s, way before public places had to be handicapped-accessible. My back was my brother’s carriage and I gladly showed him all that I could. He was my brother, my best friend and I would carry him joyfully for as long as our childhood allowed.

And now, lying there in pain, I thought of my brother. How he would laugh at me now, looking up at others who hurried past me. The store manager came and asked what I was doing. I explained to him I was having a back spasm and I just needed to rest a bit. He was sympathetic, but he told me I could only lie there ten minutes.

I did then what I continue to do today, forty years later, to help myself cope with back pain — I used imagery. I closed my eyes and calmly envisioned happy places, places of comfort and peace, such as a rolling stream, a beautiful ocean scene, soft flower petals falling on me, and the faces of people I loved. Mentally moving myself from a painful place to a peaceful one decreases my back pain and gives me some control over my body. It does not relieve the pain entirely, but it helps me to feel a sense of connection between my body and my mind, a place where hopeful thoughts take root.

The ten minutes passed and my imagery time was up. I felt well enough to walk again. I slowly got up and smiled. There were still purses on that table and the blue light was still flashing. I made sure to purchase a small purse, one that could hold my bare necessities. After all, a large, heavy purse can harm one’s back. And besides, I already had something big to carry: my brother’s love.

~ Malinda Dunlap Fillingim ~

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