When I was a little girl, my Grandma had a China doll she kept in a box in the living room closet. It was a gift from her younger brother, Joseph. He had bought the doll when he was a sailor in the Navy in World War II. It was made of porcelain with a moveable head, arms and legs. Her face was painted with delicate features. In her tummy was a special device that when you turned her upside down, it said, ” Ma-ma.” She had real black hair cut into a page boy. Her dress was made of light green raw silk with pink ruffled trim. However, the silk was so thin that even though he had wrapped it and kept in his duffle bag, the sea air had rotted some of the silk. She let her daughters play with the doll, though always under supervision. I loved looking at her. She was so beautiful.
When I was old enough, Grandma let me play with the doll. But time had not been kind to her and Grandma had to put in new string because the string that held the arms and legs together had rotted. I remember the day she tenderly made the repair. The arms and legs had metal loops for joints and she carefully fed the string inside the body cavity connecting the arms, legs and head. Also with time, the voice box stopped working, but Grandma got it to say a simple, “Ma.” Her little wig came unglued and it too got repaired.
One day, when I was playing with the delicate doll, the string that attached her head came loose and her head fell to the floor and broke into many pieces. It was very sad. Accidents happen in life and once again, Grandma carefully glued the head together and reattached it to the body. She was still beautiful, but you could see the scars on her face where she had been glued. After that, Grandma decided it was best to keep the doll in her box and play with her without ever taking her out of the box.
To me, she remained beautiful and well loved.
I am telling you this story because after I sustained a traumatic brain injury, I became like that China doll. I had many places that had become broken and my voice box didn’t work like it had formerly. My hair fell out and my limbs didn’t do want I wanted them to do. My scars were ever present and like that raw silk dress, much of my life appeared to be dissolving right before my eyes. And I was unable to ever leave my box.
Even now, as time has passed, and some glue as been applied, I am only able to appear in tact, as long as I don’t venture out of my box for long periods. After play, I must return to my box, or I too, will fall apart.
Life in a box is a small space, but it is still possible to survive. One day, I hope to leave my box behind, with a straight gait and a clear strong mind.