The Only Answer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dear Seamus,

There is a crispness in the air not common of a typical February morning. It is my birthday and you and I are up early. At your request, the movie ‘The Croods’ is playing on the television. Our whole household could very well recite most of the lines from the film, such is the number of times it has been re-played.
I tucked your legs underneath a blanket on the lounge.

“Are you cosy”? I asked
“I not cosy”; You replied, “I SEAMUS”!

I am perched on the other couch, notebook in hand and filled with inspiration. I have not written a letter to you in some months. Not for lack of trying I might add, but it just didn’t seem to flow out of me in the usual way. If I try to write when I feel like that it feels forced, so I leave it be.

There have been beautiful things to write to you about which has made the experience more frustrating. Last December I finally fulfilled a dream to travel to Uluru. An experience every bit as powerful as I had imagined and then some! A week after we returned, your Daddy and I were married. An incredible day of celebration, love and intimacy.

As is the dualistic nature of this world we live in, I also endured some painful experiences. They came in such quick succession it felt like the Universe was throwing flaming meteorites at me. After the joys of December, the challenges of January seemed almost impossible to bear. These events triggered a whirlwind of questioning and I quickly became a prisoner of my own mind.

It all reached a desperate crescendo with the ultimate question:
“What is the meaning of all of this”?!

One of my greatest fears is to have lived a meaningless life. That all of the experiences to which I had attached such strong emotions were actually just pointless. These thoughts were going against the very grain, the very essence of who I thought I was. It was painful and I felt like I was being torn apart.

I have always wanted to know. I have always questioned, enquired and investigated. I was the child who asked ‘why’? I was the teenager who didn’t do what I was told because I questioned authority. I was the employee who needed to understand the purpose of what I was required to do.

I am the friend who openly listens when others are troubled and I ask them why they think they feel that way. I am the wife that wants to dig deep in her husband’s life, that I may know the roots of the trees that grow in his garden. I am the Mother who has an understanding of herself and how she was shaped, so that I may help you find your own shape, in your own time, in your own way.

My search for the ultimate meaning became even more poignant when the Oncologist rang me a few weeks ago to discuss my latest scan results. He explained to me that the disease has rapidly progressed and didn’t appear to be responding to the current treatment protocol. His suggestion was to stop my medications and begin chemotherapy, sooner rather than later. The aim now being to control symptoms of the disease and to prolong life a few months more. That is a known trajectory in medical oncology.
End stage cancer – chemotherapy – small extension of life – death.

To receive that news, in the frame of mind I was in, felt like fear had swallowed me whole. I was groping in the dark for the compass to get my bearings. I was backed into the corner. I felt like my only life line was to know the reason why all this was happening. So many questions. Can I choose my own life experience? Is it already written? Who do I believe? Have I switched one set of illusions that made me feel bad, for another set of illusions that made me feel better? Have I bought into the idea of manifestation when the truth is it’s all mapped out anyway? Do I really have any choices?

Through incredible synchronicity, I then began to remember. A yearning to re-read a book… a long conversation with a family member… a prayer to my Father that I may know in my heart what to do…

I remembered that the questioning mind will always churn out more questions. When the questioning mind finds answers, it will then question the answers. It is the nature of the beast.

Your Dad and I had a meeting with the community nurse, who has become a dear friend. With an open mind I listened as we went through the details of chemotherapy treatment. I leafed through the glossy pamphlet, the cover emblazoned with a flower and middle aged woman smiling off into the distance. On the pages within I relived my experience with chemotherapy six years prior. Every cell in my body resisted the very idea of it and I knew, in my deepest being, the answer. The only answer I needed to know in that moment.

With all the courage I could muster and your Father at my side, I said no to chemotherapy. I said no the known. I said yes to the uncharted path.

At the heart of it, the only peace is in not knowing. So I found that place. The compass is within me. As are the answers. Fear was keeping me from them. So I released the fear.

When I said no to chemotherapy, one door closed and I felt one hundred doors of possibility open in every direction. It was remarkable and it was powerful as I stepped into the unknown.

Darling boy I am telling you, when your current situation is telling you that there is no hope, that is exactly where hope lives. At these times your only responsibility is to dream the biggest dreams you can dream! I dreamed you into my life and you are the biggest reminder to me every day, that dreams do come true.
One step at a time, one answer at a time, one dream at a time. The rest is up to God.

“We have more answers ready within us, if only we choose to listen”Conversations with God book 1

Note: I remain under the close medical supervision of my Oncologist and GP. I have said no to chemotherapy but continue with my current treatment protocol. All my treatment decisions have been informed choices with open discussions and the support of my medical team.

Advertisements

The Miracle is Now

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dear Seamus,

Your birth coincided with a terminal cancer diagnosis for me. Amidst the fear, shock and broken dreams I heard a quiet voice that assured me everything was going to be ok. I chose to believe in those words and I made a decision to reach for a miracle.

I have had a strong focus since that time to be healed. I have read many books that have inspired me, educated me, soothed me and provoked serious questioning. I have dabbled in vegetarianism. I have meditated. I have chosen to eat a lot of chocolate with as much joy as possible. I have written letters to you so that you may know me if I am not here with you as you grow into an adult.

I have prayed and been prayed for. I have tearfully admitted my fears to others and listened with love to theirs. I have enjoyed beautiful lightness with a soaring, joy filled heart. I have crashed into the depths of despair where bed is the only safe place I know.

I have been hospitalised with severe physical side effects of disease with an innocent astonishment. I have panicked and worried about little aches and pains.

I have happily day dreamed about future events of various times in your life in which I am present. I have gone to bed some nights fearing that it will be my last.

All the while I have desired a miracle. Something in me knew it with such certainty that the largest and most ferocious fears could not distinguish its vibrant little flame.

My body is up against a barrage of multiple medications which makes me more susceptible to fatigue. My mind and my drive, however, sometimes rage ahead with a determination that requires a younger fitter physical form. So from time to time I am faced with feeling burned out and exhausted and I find it difficult to do the simplest of tasks. I am reminded of my physical restrictions. Let me tell you darling, I do not like it one bit. Sometimes I can be graceful and accepting and other times I am frustrated and furious.

Two days ago I sat on the edge of the bed in my underwear, too weary to go any further in dressing myself after a shower. Only a week ago I had spent a wonderful weekend in Sydney, attending a workshop and catching up with friends. I had felt invigorated and energetic, happy to enjoy the company of friends I rarely see, along with some new ones. Now here I was, head in my hands, sobbing. You stood in the doorway and watched me intently before disappearing down the hallway. You reappeared with a small container in your hands. As a gift you had been given a large tube of smarties and I had put the last of them into a plastic dish and kept them on the top shelf of the fridge.

Your little hands fumbled with the clasps but you managed to get the lid off. You tilted your head to the side and walked towards me. You leaned on my leg and carefully picked out a chocolate. With big blue eyes gazing up at me you pushed it against my mouth and nodded.

“Choga”? You nodded again. I laughed and accepted the smartie.

So I just sat there with tear stained cheeks as you fed me smarties. You had an incredibly intuitive sense of the situation and proceeded to nurture me. You proved to me that it is indeed a Universal truth that chocolate makes everything better.

Something else became crystal clear to me. I had been seeking and reaching for a miracle of healing, yet in that moment it was so obvious that the miracle was happening now.

A moment of sharing is a miracle. One human being showing love to another is a miracle. That moment of feeling overwhelmed and tired is a miracle. The fact I am able to have the occasional crappy day two years after a terminal diagnosis is the miracle.

I am the miracle, you are the miracle. The miracle is now.

With gratitude I took down my vision boards and gave them to God (and the recycling bin). I have stared at that blank wall several times now, feeling tiny sparks of excitement about what is to come into my life next.

Sometimes we ask for a miracle and become so busy co-creating it and visualising it that we forget to simply put out the welcome mat and turn the kettle on. The miracle will come. It may appear to be late or disguised as something else that you never expected, but it will come.

Seamus, never hesitate to ask for a miracle. Your only job after that is to keep your eyes and heart open, for miracles are everywhere.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle” – Albert Einstein

Faith

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dear Seamus,

It seems that no sooner had I written a letter to you about the topic of surrender, I was required to activate it in my own life. You see, I have been tested by an experience and I believe the lesson was that of faith.

I had been feeling breathless and unwell for a few days and thought somehow I had managed to get a dose of pneumonia again. The GP ordered a chest x-ray and within a day I was in the Canberra Hospital Oncology wing getting treatment for fluid on my lungs. Five separate attempts by a doctor to tap the pleural effusion with a large needle resulted in nothing but my distress. A Cardiothoracic Surgeon was consulted and he came to see me on the ward. His calm manner allayed my anxiety and he assured me his approach would work. He gowned up at my bedside and with the swift ease of years of experience, inserted a drain through my ribcage and removed almost 1 ½ litres of fluid. The pain of my compressed lung expanding was outweighed by the relief I felt that he had got the job done.

My Oncologist dropped by on his rounds to let me know I would now be monitored closely again because the build-up of fluid was a sure sign that the cancer was once again, uncontrolled.
I endured a very uncomfortable 24 hours with the drain attached and after it was removed I was so exhausted I slept on and off all day. The next day when I felt better, I decided to go for a walk. I found myself alone in the hospital chapel. So many thoughts were racing through my mind. The one thought that was the loudest and most persistent was the question I had not asked. It had been five years since I was originally diagnosed and yet I had never once asked this question. The question that is probably the most poignant and desperate when we are faced with great challenge.

I asked, “WHY ME”?

Then I felt it coming over me like a tsunami. Before I knew it I was engulfed by anger. I was overcome with a fury so powerful I wanted to cry out. I sat in that chapel and cried while I tried to make sense out of my situation. Had I not been doing all the right things? I changed my diet, I meditate regularly, I look at vision boards on my bedroom wall filled with pictures of health and healing. I had been feeling fantastically well and my blood work had been reflecting positive results. I am living my joy with a beautiful family of which I feel intense gratitude for.
So what was it? What was I doing wrong?

An answer was not forthcoming.

I then began to feel resentment for others who I judged as living selfish lives. They were in perfectly good health and with plenty of energy to spread negativity, spite and even self-harm. Why do they get to be healthy and I don’t? I had been so committed with my actions yet why was I not seeing the glorious fruits of my labour?

I again awaited a response but the only sound in the chapel was that of my sniffily nose.

When the burn of my angry ego subsided, I felt weakened. The anger was only hurting me. It was cathartic to express it, but it did not serve me to hang onto it. Back in my bed on the ward I listened to a man in the next room having a violent reaction to his chemotherapy treatment and I felt awash with the fear that I would die when I all I wanted was to live. I was battle weary and couldn’t find even a spark that I could fan into my usual determination.

Then I remembered something. On the last night of the Gawler Foundation Retreat, a young man called Scott Stephens came to speak to us about his healing experience. He had been diagnosed with melanoma in his early twenties. He told us about the secondaries that showed up in his pelvis and chest and the many surgeries and treatments he endured. However the one comment he made that struck me, was when he was explaining his test results after he made sweeping changes to his life. Tests were showing he still had serious tumours even though he felt he was doing all the right things. He recalled it was at that time he knew he needed to keep doing what he was doing even though all he had to go on, was faith. His body did heal from cancer and eight years later he remains cancer free.

A common concept that has been coming up again and again in books I have been reading, is the idea that if we are to embrace being creators of our own experience, we must relinquish the idea that seeing is believing. Instead we must understand that believing is seeing. That is where faith comes in.

In A Course in Miracles it states; “Blessed are those who have faith who cannot see”.

Nelson Mandela died a few days ago. I pondered on his twenty seven year incarceration and realised that he must have had such strong faith to have endured that. I wonder how many nights he strayed from his deep convictions, only to return with the upmost faith that his destiny was unfurling as it should. He inspired me.

Seamus, let me tell you my conclusion about faith. Faith is desiring something, then matching your belief with your desire, then surrendering the outcome. There is a bigger picture that we are not privy to and it is in our interest to allow it to expand and show itself, while we recognise how we can contribute to it. The result may not always be exactly what you have imagined.
This is one of the great dichotomies of life.

I believe the greatest understanding I now have of faith, is that its power is not simply in wanting to realise our own desires and agendas. The true potential is in placing your faith in the divine plan which extends far beyond what our egos can dream up, or more importantly, control.

So through my new understanding of faith, I continue to desire wellness and believe in healing yet I know that in the hands of god, all will unfold in divine right order. I have given my anger and my fear to god and replaced them with complete trust. If I am caught in the potential of outcome I am not being present. Being in the moment is when we are in the presence of such incredible love that there is no need for future or past and faith itself, extends all known boundaries.

“Faith means we are open to the possibility of miracles, knowing that when we stand on the ground of love, within the space of holiness, then all material forces are automatically programmed to work on our behalf” Marianne Williamson – The Gift of Change