You are loved by the universe, Sidra says.
Sure, I was taking care of her, along with other marine lab techs at the University of Miami Graduate School in 1974, and she was captive and dependent. Yes, I fed her the noon meal daily, even on weeekends, so she grew to associate me with food. But she also welcomed me like no other–black penetrating eyes, a high-pitched clicking sound, and acrobatic antics. She’d rise up on her tail and skip backwards; rocket high-speed around the perimeter of the pool; break the surface right in front of me, rising six feet into the air, and fall backwards as I sat spellbound on the diving board. Sidra held nothing back. She disarmed me. With her, I broke through self-consciousness. I felt valued.
As a child, I felt ugly, partly due to the spider-like scar reaching across my belly. If you would have asked me at age 22 whether the scar, or the infant surgery itself, was affecting my life at that time, I would have said no. In reality though my middle was frozen. I had dissociated from my abdomen; in my mind, it didn’t exist. Sidra helped me heal. She made me feel loved if only for a half-hour a day one summer. Sidra saw through my wound to the real me.
Sidra still helps me heal. When I think of her, when I see her photo, I know that I am loved by the universe.