Tuesday, October 7, 2008

the hero's journey

first, i remembered a few other people who are due a HUGE thank you for their help over the past year & a half:

lane family: for your grocery donation on the exact day it was needed. thank you for having your antennae up and turned on!

coach bernie: for graciously helping with rides to & from some games & practices.

betsy po: for the most comfy chair in the entire world!

rain: for your thoughtful, articulate, and poetic insights...for being a really skillful listner/reader, and for graciously making us food to thoroughly enjoy. namaste...

second, my intention was to post every monday. i did not make that happen. it seems like a monthly commitment, for now, is more manageable.

so, onward...........

I thought maybe i would share what being a caregiver has been like for me over the past year + during particular milestones on this journey...maybe this will be of some benefit to someone...

the day bert was diagnosed
so there we are, sitting in the cramped dr's office, and the doctor comes in. wow. i do not envy him, i thought. i knew the day he had the biopsy that bert had cancer. i could just feel it. from that place of "knowing" inside...different than intuition, different from hopefulness or worry...i believe this particular place of Knowing comes from the Divine giving you the Answer about whatever, so that you are prepared...so the dr tells us bert has cancer. bert & i looked at each other with expressions that spoke "of course". this is so whacked, AND it makes perfect sense. not because he had done something that would obviously result in having cancer, but something about the whole situation felt both familiar and "right". it's a very difficult thing to describe. it felt as though all was unfolding as it should be, and that nothing was 'wrong' or out of place. the overarching umbrella of emotion was a peaceful place...

now, i will also add, that along with all of that, UNDER the umbrella, was shock...i have a 4 month old baby in my arms, and told bert has cancer, and that is is serious. this poor dr couldn't leave the room fast enough, after he gave us the basic facts & told us who to go see next. he zipped outta the room like anywhere was a better place than being in that room with a nice, young family...and that crappy, crappy news. next stop was the surgeons office. we met a delightful PA named nan, and the doctor. they spent about 2 hours with us, doing an exam & answering the same 5 questions bert & i kept asking on a rotational basis...it was a dizzy flurry. we piled into the car to head home, after making agreements with the dr to begin scheduling chemo treatments somewhere...all the while in total disbelief. none of it made rational sense, and yet it did...

the difficult part was knowing we had to call our families that night. we couldn't even stall for time because they all knew about today's appointment. dang. we arranged for a conference call with bert's whole family after having spoken to my family. it was very emotional for everyone involved. unspoken fears permeated the stillness between sentences....we both took on a cheeriness to balance the equation. not in a fake way, but we realized right away, once we received the news, that we still gotta laugh. for us, laughter and silliness happens constantly, and to stop now would give life to a very dark cloud.

when i reflect on that day, i remember being present to 2 distinct things. the first was that "All is OK". i really knew bert was not going to die from this. again, from that place of Knowing. there was no wishing or hoping involved. not a reaction to fear. the second thing was that he was going to have a very difficult road ahead of him before he was to be well. that also came from Knowing. what made that the most difficult thing to stomach was that ultimately, this journey was going to be his, alone. alone in the context of many, many people loving & supporting him, but still, ultimately alone. like, i couldn't do it for him, which is really what i found myself wanting to do. it brought me face-to-face with the stark reality of the solitary journey we all are on. it is easy to forget that, especially when life is going along just fine, you are surrounded by friends, you are busy with the family/children/work...this reminder of the solitary journey was like a smack in the face from an old sorta-friend...i knew this place from my experiences with meditation, but it was all too different when i had to acknowledge my dearest friend on the planet ALSO had his own journey to be on. i was present to my own journey, and all i wanted to do was shield him from upcoming suffering. the worst was then knowing he had to go through the suffering to come out just fine. like luke skywalker going into the cave in star wars, or the knights going into the forest, one by one, alone, to search for the holy grail. notice, luke didn't bring his buddy along to face his deepest fears, nor did the knights implement the ever-safe "buddy system". the point of the hero's journey (ahh, joseph campbell, the world misses you so...) is to have the solitary experience for the sake of transformation. of course, you have no idea that's what;s happening until you "get it"...it merges you with your fears, and, if you are receptive to it, to God (or the Divine, or Buddha, or Love, or the Force, or Papa Smurf...you choose). you get the zap of Love, or God, when all circuits are closed, and you can only come out giddy, joyful, grateful and dancing!! the ultimate kicker of it all is then when you discover that all the while, the Divine was inside you the whole time, but 'first contact' could only result from this horrific scary experience with a side-of-suffering. sorta like in the movie men in black...the galaxy was teeny-weeny inside a marble size amulet around orion's (the cat's) neck....that HUGE Divineness that feels infinite and gigantic and all around you is actually tucked inside each & every one of us, deep in our hearts...we just have to go on this insane commando-style-human-mission to find it.

(we all must have agreed to this ahead of time as part of the rules-of-being-human-game)

from here, on the other side of all this, with bert in his last leg of healing, i look at him with such admiration, such courage. having cancer has just terrifying moments. how 'brave' would i have been??? he came out of the cave/woods a very different person. his "outta the cave dance" some days looks like the 2-step, other days it looks like wild bohemian dancing...so, if you see him out & about, and catch him looking around then clicking his heels in the air, you know why...


ps :that is me & baby beau...he was about 5 minutes old...


  1. awesome!!

    Thank you.

  2. It's pretty amazing what the human spirit can get us through. With all of the treatments, I still believe that the mind telling us we will get better is what is the magic!


  3. what a great picture. I couldn't even get through your whole blog without this comment!

    Love, Patty