It was while I was strolling the streets of Brooklyn, in the middle of June 2015, keeping my eyes peeled for the prophetic love, that I got a phone call from my mother about what she was just informed of… Two tumors, one of 8cm and the other 9cm, on each ovary. She was in a dark place about the news, yet I felt in all of my body in that instant, a deep peace about her process. I had a deep knowing that it could be the key to her ultimate freedom of stale habituals of the last 15 years.
From my experience, I have seen that the disease process unfolds (or ‘suddenly’ emerges) as a strong wake up call usually following the unread messages through dreams and seemingly coincidental events that knock gently at the door of our hearts/minds. It made me realize that having a strong feeling of support through love without pity is the best medicine I could offer, rather than scrambling to find a ‘cure’ from this plant or that. This is what got me through the process of healing guillain barre syndrome, and regardless of the actual named dysfunction, it is the same medicine that is needed across the world.
After much wagering back and forth, she decided to go full on with the hysterectomy. My brothers, sister, and I gathered at a hospital on August 4th, surrounding my mom with what she really wanted. At one point, I read from the I Like You book (Sandol Stoddard Warburg, thank you Lindsey) in a strange accent and received the surprising remark of “I didn’t know you were so funny, Ralph!” Amazing what we notice when we have the time to!
We spoke of different things in the waiting room, naturally calling in the usual looks of those who keep to themselves. You know, we are a lively bunch, and the hair is a bit curly and wild and well, we don’t stay in our seats too much.
When we finally were at the point of seeing my mother off, a group of men and women in their scrubs stormed in from an unseen part of the room, enveloping my mother as she lay in her ready-to-roll bed, instantly anxiety stricken from such an encounter… “woah, woah…” She strongly felt their presence shift the energy of the situation. They approached as if ready to go to war with someone’s insides. A routine probably so familiar to them, that the compassionate grace a fresh patient requires was far away on the list of checking off.
This coldness is what calls in such a needed look into the medical establishment (and all establishments?) It is business as usual, which is understandable but doesn’t make it okay nor desired. It begs questions pertaining to what actually heals us… and if we can’t completely remove the root cause, what makes us feel better in the long run? If the Hippocratic oath of ‘either help or do no harm to the patient’ were to be truly followed, then could it be something to look at in regards to all ways of increasing well being?
Maybe this can include a retraining of attitude in hospital settings. Where it is of course important to know what we are doing, but equally important is how we do it. What kind of feelings and thoughts are we bringing to the table when dealing with those that are imbalanced and seeking restoration? How does centering and grounding ourselves reflect in our relationships with those that we are treating?
So, the perfect plan could finally be concocted! Excitedly, my mind rolls: I’m going to load her up on every adaptogenic herb and use the Anamu (anti cancer herb) in the backyard and wake up at 5 am and do chi gong and meditation and take her on vacation out of the state while forbidding all sugar intake! Of course, almost none of this happened, as my projected idea of a perfect plan, was just that. I strongly resisted her never ceasing desire for key lime pie on drip and was more so feeling a regiment that would be akin to a healing centers itinerary… well guess what? As it turns out, the game plan must be flexible and at times include key lime pie. Actually, the most divine moment of her experience was receiving a homemade key lime pie from my partner. The medicine of sweetness pervaded her being, especially the sweetness of gathering with family and friends, something that was a rare occasion in working so frequently for so long. Could it be said that this togetherness is the substance that is sought after by individuals in need? That our attitude is felt into the things we offer to each other? I would vote, yes.
As the weeks rolled forward, a lot of things came up. I mean, one can imagine that after working 6-7 days a week for 10 years plus, there might be some facets of life that have gone unchecked or unresolved. Tensions were discovered and with as much grace as possible, dived into and explored… asking questions like, “where does this originate?” and “how am I responsible for this too?” Granted, none of this was particularly easy, but I know that if long lasting healing is desired, then it takes doing the work on ourselves to free us from our habitual patterning. At times, deep silence and deliberate space was needed, and so it was given. I am no angel, and so it was naturally a beautiful and potent challenge to my levels of patience and compassion! Always learning.
The most moving of the experiences thus far occurred a few weeks before her surgery. We were on the veranda of our home and she was facing the stress of choosing between operating or not. She then came to the cold and ever true idea of “why should I heal myself if I’m just going to die anyway?” With the most authentic of tears streaming down her face, I felt inside myself for the answer that I knew was there. “We heal ourselves so we can help others, Mom. There is no other greater inspiration than this. You will get better so you can help people, because you will understand.”
In this journey, it is a given that we will fall ill and eventually lose our faculties in some way or another. Most may wish to die in their sleep, peaceful as can be, but some will go out in seemingly harsher ways. My mother reminded me of this, due to her out of nowhere health crisis, and brought to our family and circle a reminder: to truly be grateful and present with what it is that we currently have been gifted… because it really is a gift, whatever it is that we are dealt with.
Mom getting vitamin D as she rests among the Spanish Needle, Mango, Moringa, Mexican Sunflowers, Papaya, Chaya, Starfruit, and herbs.