Back in the 1990’s, Jody and I bought a light brown stuffed bear, about 18 inches tall. Jody named him Turner Brown. He has sat in our bedroom for many years. After Jody died, I got closer to Turner. I’m sad to admit that the two of us had often gone weeks between our chats. No longer, though. Turner and I talk every day, just like Jody and I do.
A few weeks ago, I went on a 9-day meditation retreat in Massachusetts. More recently, I spent four days in Belleville. There was no question each time … Turner Brown was coming with me. I packed my suitcase, carefully placing my friend on his back on top of the clothes, and shut the fabric cover. I prayed that Turner could breathe okay. It turns out that he was fine. There was a little bump pressing out from the suitcase. I don’t think anybody noticed.
In my room in Barre, Turner sat on a chair. In Belleville, I created a place of honour for him on a chest-of-drawers. In our bedroom, it’s a chair again. Every morning, I sit in front of Turner and make eye contact. He seems comfortable with that. I put my hand on his fuzzy head and say, “Turner Brown … … All beings everywhere.” And I think of all of us, how fragile we are, how we need love. Then I take my right hand and draw the outside of my fingers down his left cheek. It’s one of my favourite gestures. He gets it. I hope all people do.