I’ve been “away” for awhile. I had a brain aneurysm that ruptured and the result was hospitalization, being kept in a sleep state, surgery, therapies and the still happening recovery. It has been a long and challenging time. As I learn more about all the events and concerns, I feel so deeply for my family and friends and can only imagine the worry and fears they must have endured. All the while lifting me up with their love, presence and care.
I have been home now for several weeks and sit here looking at the material remains of Christmas morning. Christmas morning, as soon as my eyes opened my heart called out “I am here! I get another Christmas with the loves of my life!” I paused a little bit letting that sink in….emotions flooded me. Overwhelming me.
I sat for awhile in the quiet of the early morning, Christmas tree lights the only lights on, glowing softly. A cold, just turning to light, morning. I sat there, looking around, allowing everything to seep into my heart and memory: the cold, the quiet, the lights of the tree, the purring of the cats, the birds fluttering at the feeders, the fire slowly warming the room, my heart beat. I sat there blanketed gratefully in awe of the healing powers of the body, and in the love that carried me through a very difficult event.
Soft sounds of awakening began in other parts of the house. My husband and children were rustling and sleepy faces peered around corners and at the top and bottom of stairs. My heart was so full. This could have been a very different story. I caught myself holding my breath at the thought of a different scenario.
As I have been healing I have been reading, maybe even searching for some small morsel of coming to terms with each new day. Days that are filled with therapists, canes and walkers, discomfort, pain, medication, worry, uncertainty, doctors and tests. I think I was looking for answers. Answers to the question “Why me? Why now?” and “When will I be healed and whole again?”. There are also the very strong, very emotional thoughts of “I hate this.” The therapies were and continue to be very challenging and sometimes a little painful. I mourned so deeply all the things that were now either impossible for me to do, or very difficult to do. There was no other option: this was the path I was to travel now. Thankfully I was not traveling alone. Husband, children, co-workers, siblings, friends all walked next to me, protecting, guiding, literally physically holding me up and caring for me. While they held my hand and provided support for my wobbling steps, this journey was physically mine alone and it was an alien experience for me. This was new territory. I was feeling so dependent on others for just about everything. Gratitude and humility, even fear,washed over me.
I would sit during the day and think. Think about the past, and take in the present moment and wonder about the future. There were gaping holes in my memory of the past days/weeks and events. Trying to be present in moments that were full of frustration and sorrow, yet feeling them being softened a little by perseverance and the love from others. The future was still very unknown, but it was colored softly with hope in that my left side, which had not been working as a result of the rupture had regained strength and was slowly coming back to working.
And always, the questions and wonderings. Trying to find a way, any way, to make sense of all this. It was hard to offer up “It is what it is.” I needed something more. I so desperately wanted there to be just one person who could scoop me up and make everything okay again. I wanted desperately to just wake up from a bad dream.
Early days of my hospital stay.
And when I awoke, there I sat, much like today, watching birds at the feeders, rubbing my hand over the bulge on my head where a drain is keeping my brain healthy and safe. The care and support of others, family, doctors, nurses and therapists provide the only road to getting “better”, “Healing”. I am not asleep, there is no bad dream. Still, there is a chasm I continue to almost fall into. This is hard work and the results are not fast enough for me. I have no memory of much of my hospital and rehab stays, so I can’t even compare where I am today physically and mentally, to where I was a few short months ago. There are literally months that have passed that I have no recollection of. No record in my memory of those days and months ever even happening. Poof. Gone.
Yet, here I am. I obviously lived through the days and months I don’t remember.
I was reading a passage by Jack Kornfield, and there was this sentence about one way to approach life and the circumstances and experiences. He says we must find a way for “Becoming the sanctuary we seek.” I read it and I felt a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. “There is no place like home, there is no place like home.” I needed to find a way to come home to myself and discover that “I” am the very sanctuary I seek at this time. I am it. Even in my “brokenness” I am what I seek and need. However, I feel like I need a clearer view of the road ahead, and I need to allow time for rest stops to replenish myself.
So, Jack offers these: safe guard a day of rest, create and protect daily time for meditation and prayer, have regular periods of silence, move towards simplicity in life, go out in Nature, go on retreats, ration the news, on occasion place my hand over my heart and take deep breaths. One of my therapists listened intently as I spoke of feeling something akin to anger at how tired I was all the time. He smiled gently and said, “Just listen to your body. It knows what it needs. If you’re tired, sleep. Healing comes through sleep.” Instead of labeling tiredness as a lapse or weakness, I need to find a way to acknowledge this real need for sleep as a means of care-taking the sanctuary that is “me”. And of remembering our heart’s task is here on Earth. Here. Now.
Jack was right. I knew in my heart I was on a challenging path of realization, allowing and honoring the becoming of and being the very sanctuary I was seeking.
There was a different kind of therapy and work that I needed to do. I had to listen to, talk with, and respect that soft voice inside that expresses what “I” needs when “I” am not always aware of it “myself”. So, I work at this. I make a greater effort to express thanks and gratitude towards those who steadfastly uphold me. Let me be clear, without their support I would stumble and fall. I savor the moments of silence I make time to allow and place my hand over my heart and breath deeply, aware of the rise and fall of my chest and the thump-thumping of my heart. Here I find some comfort and peace. I find a place where I can pause and just bask in the light of healing, promise, possibility and gratitude.
At night as I settle under the warm blankets on my bed I talk quietly to myself going over the day. I recall those moments of comfort and peace, giving energy to those moments so I can gently place the more challenging moments and frustrated feelings just to the side as if to say, “I know you’re there, but right now I need for you to just be over here. I am basking in the healing energy of hope and promise, gratitude, being present, love, receiving, and patience. And these are things that will hold me up and carry me forward.”.
I am the very sanctuary I seek. It is time to care-take this sanctuary.
I am stronger than I think. There are numerous people standing with me as support and offering encouragement. They are the pillars of my place of sanctuary. Without them I would fall, my sanctuary would crumble.
Me just a few short weeks before, in Northern Ireland.
Thank you for reading this. Peace and love to you all.