Quite a while back, there was a TV series about a group of nurses in the Vietnam War. It was called China Beach. In one episode of this powerful drama, a soldier who had lost a leg from the knee down is back home, feeling lost and depressed about his life. Desperate for a loving human bond, he drives a great distance to find the home of one of the nurses who’d taken care of him “in country.”
He finds her and talks stumblingly about his hopes to be with her, and it’s clear he feels like an ugly reject whom no one will have anything to do with. She sees at once that what he’s looking for is an emotional crutch, not a real relationship and gently explains that she can’t be with him. Then she does something amazing. Understanding what he feels about himself, she wants to give him the one message above all that he needs to hear and believe.
Taking him into a room with a full-length mirror, she tells him to stand in front of it and to take off all his clothes. He does that numbly, mechanically, revealing what’s left of his leg, and she tells him to really look at himself, not just the leg. Then she says, in so heartfelt a way:
“You are beautiful.”
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