As I sat in my hotel room the night before my surgery, I thought of the oncologist and his lack of eye contact that afternoon. It made me shiver thinking about how important his job is yet his aloof and uninterested presentation in his office left me feeling so alone, frightened, unloved. Shouldn’t it be part of their bedside manner to give their cancer patients a sense of comfort, at least a gentle reassuring touch? Where was the compassion? Then I remembered, as I closed my eyes in the bed in my hotel room in Boston— that first week back in Portland, frozen, scared, and finally crawling out from my dark corner. I had been guided that week to what would become my answer, my source of compassion, my hope and faith, my life’s purpose…..
A few days after my diagnosis, Ray and I found an apartment in Portland and were able to leave the hotel. I tried to settle into our new home, across the country from my friends and my family. I was so grateful to be out of the one room at the hotel and to have the nights to myself, in a separate room from where Ray slept. I appreciated my dark corner where I spent the wee hours of the morning grieving and trying to catch my breath.
I sat in the peace of the night, allowing my body to quiver and shake. I called to God to help me relax. I imagined the angels and a warm white light surrounding me. When I was a little girl, I was terrified of the dark, being in the blanket of black without any signs of life. I felt unsafe and exposed to an unknown world. I was experiencing the fear of the unknown world but this time for a different reason. I remembered what my brother had taught me when I was younger to help me get over being afraid in the dark, of the dark. His white light trick gave me the power to make it through the nights that first week. I even felt comforted by the gentle caress of the angels; for the first time, the blackness and the quiet felt like velvet. I sunk into that and allowed the black hole of fear that had been in the pit of my stomach transform into a gentle knowing that no matter what, it was going to be ok.
During the day I tried to forget what was happening inside my body. I kept busy setting up my new classroom. My new boss was less than thrilled that I her new teacher was diagnosed with cancer and had to fly back to Boston only weeks into the school year. It was my first experience having to let go of what someone else was thinking of me so that I could focus on taking care of myself.
When I had free time, I spent it watching movies, trying to distract myself and ignore the fear I was carrying. I also walked to the bookstore near my new home and was guided to find the self-healing/alternative healing aisle. There, in front of me, I found the answer to all of my questions, then, now, and forever! The title jumped out at me like a neon sign: The Reiki Sourcebook by Bronwen and Frans Stiene. I had never heard of this before but I pulled the book off the shelf and read it like it was medicine, soaking in every word, feeling every Japanese Kanji character, breathing in the hope and light that emanated from the pages. In that moment, everything changed. My life would never be the same. And I knew right then and there as I sat on the floor in the self-healing aisle at Borders in August, 2005. Reiki. Reiki was going to make it ok that the oncologist couldn’t give me hope or compassion. Reiki was going to dissipate the fear. Reiki was going to get me through this. Reiki would nurture and comfort me through hell and back again. And Reiki would be my life’s purpose. Reiki, it is the way of my soul…..
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Ray and I when we moved into our first home in Portland, Oregon.