It’s been almost 18 months since I breathed awe, f@#% into some poor receptionist ear. An almost compulsory response that seemed to leap from my throat and into the phone line, and unfortunately into the unsuspecting ear of the messenger relaying that the doctor wanted to see my mother as a result of her recent brain scan.
It was at that moment that I realized, Pema, Deepack, Oprah and Eckhart still had some serious work to do. I had let down the side.
The work I was doing was wiped out and replaced with involuntary profanity the second the outcome didn’t match what I expected, wanted and felt was my right.
I heard a spiritual teacher tell a story of how she lost all her money with Bernie Madoff and when she called her friend to lament her woes, her friend tried to placate her with spiritual platitudes and she in return told her friend in no uncertain terms that this was “no time to be spiritual.”
I know how she felt it’s all very well and good to be “zen buddha,” “I am one with the universe,” “nothing’s going to get me down,” “love conquers all,” insert generic uplifting battle cry here when things are going your way.
But when they don’t...
Well, that bullshit flies out the window and anger, despair, exhaustion set it in.
They take hold and the suffering amplifies and the manic searching for answers, solutions,people to blame, people to save you, herbs to take, tonics to drink goes into hyperdrive. Often you harden, become brittle and gruff, others fall apart, become helpless and victims. Everyone gets angry.
And, then if you are lucky you surrender, and you remember your manners and you surrender again.
The quest for healing is one of constant surrender. It’s also not linear. It’s a zig zag. It’s a step forward, a step back, a step to this side, a plunge into a rabbit hole and sometimes a slide into a moment of f%@$.
When that happens, pull yourself out of the muck, forgive yourself, take a pause to accept it and do the next right thing.
It seems counterintuitive since we are taught to fight. We are told “Fight cancer, never give up, never give in, keep fighting.”
“Wear pink, walk miles for research, fight, fight, fight.” It took me a long time to learn fighting is not the answer.
If cancer is an assault on the body we can’t assault it to heal it.
I love Michele Obama’s quote “when they go low, we go high.” “We don’t win by imitating what we are against.”
Poison and fear which is the jumping off point for most treatments is not the answer.
Healing starts where love is ignited.
I’ve come to believe that there can be no true healing without love.
When my mom was first diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer she was far from me. I hated that. I wanted to be with her to hold her hand, to laugh with her in chemo, to share the hardship. I felt helpless and frustrated and wanted to let her know I was with her.
So, I wrote her letters. Love letters to let her know I was thinking of her, that I loved her, that we were in this together.
My mom said the gift of cancer was those letters. Out of the pain we created beauty.
I now realize her gift to me was shielding me from it. I never really saw her sick.
Yes, I saw her with no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, with the face of cancer, but whenever I visited she was always smiling and carrying on as normal, tending her bees, walking her garden and making jokes about melting her wig everytime she opened the oven door.
She indulged me in my chemo fantasy and I went to treatment and set vigil.
And then I left and was secretly relieved, I didn’t have to go again. It’s a horrible thing to watch poison snake through your loved ones veins, to be in a room of sickness and sadness and to actually bear witness to their struggle. I was glad to go back to letter writing.
Below is my second letter.
Wanted you to know we are thinking of you and with you today. The second round is perhaps less scary than the first, but still tough because now you know what to expect. I am praying they get your medications right so no more migraines.
I love you and am so proud of you. Your attitude and willingness to face this head on is inspiring and you amaze me with the strength you show every step of this journey.
Selfishly I hate that I am so far away. I want to be there making sure your fridge is stocked with cold cherries and there is fresh water by your bed. Since I'm not there physically, I want you to know that I am thinking of you always and sending love and healing energy to you.
We love you and we will send our love filled with strength, determination and a healthy dose of kick ass to you at 1:30. That has nothing on chemo!
The changes that may come with this round will be hard/weird but you will still be the most beautiful bee charmer with or without hair we've ever seen.
Love you and my heart is with you.