I was steps away from the Far Away Café only it wasn't far enough away. The name evokes a tropical location, bongos and Pina Coladas. Instead, it was inches away from a packed security line at JFK and a foot from the flight I didn't want to take. I was way too close to reality and frankly would rather hide under the covers.
My mom was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and I was going home to see her for the first time. If I could pick up any of the other shoes on that security conveyor belt I would. If I could get on any flight but this one, I would. But this was a choice I wasn't free to make. I had to face this and I had to cope. But how?
Two people close to my heart were diagnosed with cancer within five months of each other. I never thought I would ever have to face something like this, much less in the same time period. The "C Word" can be life-altering, paralyzing and can render you helpless, if you let it. This disease has tested me on every level -- faith, intuition, stamina, truth, resentment, vulnerability and trust. Most of all it has made me ask why way too many times.
The first diagnosis came several months ago, and it was earth shattering. I was the only person there when it was first discovered and I moved into autopilot, choosing to care for this person in a way that I had never had before. I battled with my own vulnerability; I was internally terrified, but my exterior reflected an artificial calm.
At times it felt like lights that were too bright, or a room that was way too cold, as it stripped me down to a reality I wished I never had to see. I broke down alone; I took lots of supplements and relied on the healing techniques that usually support me. I gave without hesitation, I prayed a lot and thankfully the situation has since stabilized.
Only a few months later, another bowling ball knocked me over. Now it was my mom. She had no symptoms. She was on a vacation and suddenly had a seizure. Boom. Brain cancer. I can barely type the words -- actually I won't say them again because it gives the disease power. It is all very sudden, dramatic and frankly shocking. She takes care of herself physically and is very diligent. How could this happen to her? How could this happen to us? I have done a lot of soul searching, asking why? Cursing the Universe. Questioning my path. Wondering where my life is going. Feeling so drained I can't rest or get out of bed. Feeling so angry I can't even express the words. All of my questioning led me to what I already know to be true.
I am a holistic practitioner and at least 50 percent of my sessions are to help clients connect their physical and emotional health. I devote client sessions to this. I write about this. I run retreats related to this. You can eat "perfectly," you can exercise, you can take supplements, but what are you feeding your soul? Our emotional imbalances can manifest into physical issues. My mother took care of herself physically but not emotionally. Out of respect for her privacy all I will say is that her childhood was far from perfect, and there is quite a bit of resentment, disappointment and hurt from that time in her life. Those unresolved issues created a wound in her that attracted additional issues over the years with a similar theme. My mom went many years not working on these patterns and past hurts, until now.
This diagnosis forced her to surpass the physical and go deeper. She has been working with healers to connect to herself. It has already allowed for such incredible shifts in her relationships, values and core beliefs. I have witnessed a transformation in so many of the relationships that have been causing her pain for so long. Ironically, these are some of the people who are showing her the most love. But even beyond those relationships, people who she might not have been as close with are texting her the most beautiful words, dropping off baked goods, bringing over meaningful gifts that provide strength and praying for her. They are sending such good will and there is so much strength in love. She is touched by the beauty in the genuine support she has received, and it has renewed her faith in humanity, and given her a new perspective. She now knows she was never alone, she is in control of her life, and she has already witnessed many miracles. She is so important to so many people and this is the first time she ever really believed it.
I do have some resolution to the "why" question I continue to ask myself. Both people's journeys have forced me to go inward. I have been working on my own vulnerability -- accepting it and understanding it. I am learning how to be strong and supportive while honoring my own feelings. I can be authentic emotionally, and also be resilient. I can be a caretaker and care for myself. But even more than all of this, I have learned how to draw strength from those sending good will, and how to shield from the naysayers -- this includes doctors, family members and friends who spread their fear. I believe in something greater.
Life is all about perspective. This year has felt like a blackout. You always hear stories about how days without power and technology force you to sit still, and be present. It forces you to connect to your loved ones in a new way, but you still wait for the day where the lights turn back on and the comfort returns. I have since learned that the power is within us all. We have the strength to light the way with our thoughts, our faith, our connection to one another and our belief in love. We have the strength to survive it all.