Years ago when I was young, in my early 30’s before babies, my youngest sister Susan, was estranged from my parents. She lived at the Haven on Gabriola Island in Canada and Rob and I lived on a houseboat in Seattle. Our parents lived far away in Virginia.
I’ll never forget the afternoon Susan called to ask if I thought Mom and Dad would participate in a family conference at the retreat center where she lived. She wondered if they would sit in a circle with her and with Rob and me and possibly my other sister too, while Haven founders—Ben and Jock—facilitated a conversation.
I listened with bated breath…
And stammered, “Yes, yes, yes,” before we hung up.
Immediately alone, without her voice on the other end of the line, I burst into tears. My entire body was flooded with relief. Sobs and powerful energy rushed over and through and around me.
This was something I had prayed for, asked others to pray for, imagined and spoke of aloud with Rob. But on some cellular level, I was amazed when the real possibility, that which I had begged for, was beginning to unfold. I had only been able to convince myself just so much intellectually that these relationships would somehow eventually heal….at least enough for all of us to be in the same room.
And then it happened again when our beautiful Labrador Retriever Roxy was diagnosed with Mast Cell Disease—dog cancer—at age 5. She had little tumors all over the undersides of her ears. After blood work and a CT-scan, we learned she had some lymph node involvement. What to do? I remember bathing in my tears again when Roxy, my daughter Carolina, 13 at the time, and I visited a dog whisperer. She helped us hear Roxy pleading, “I don’t want the rest of my life to only be about my cancer. I want to keep playing with you.” We decided not to follow the recommended treatment and take her ears off…. She lived seven more years and died in old age.
Deep healing is happening yet again and I am real-eyesing it. To wit…
Rob is not a morning person but allows me to crawl back to spoon with him after his music alarm sounds at 8 AM. The phrase “for better or worse but not for breakfast” resonates for him. Still, once “Mornings with Mozart” is blaring, that’s my cue to scratch his back, perhaps blabber on about whatever I’ve been pondering in the early hours. He is generous in those moments with his quiet and reliable “hums” and “ah-has” as he slowly wakes to greet the day on his own terms (for the most part – lol).
The other day with my arm slung over the left side of him, in the time of COVID19 when his bloodwork and energy are all in the normal range but his CT-scan to monitor potential cancer details has been postponed, it occurred to me—girl of strong intuition, “My God, he’s cancer-free.” The thought just flew in and I settled on it. Yes, this is the very statement I have articulated, a prayer I have verbalized, an expectation I have imagined and asked others to join in on. But, truth be told, doubt and statistics creep in. For heaven’s sake, he’s 70. I know no one gets out of this life alive.
But in that very moment I found myself giggling, crying, profoundly certain Rob was well. While I knew someone might tell me otherwise someday, that day in that moment, I was sure. And boy did that feel grand! What a comfort, a hit of deep balm to lean into and massage thoughtfully a while longer. This was the faithful solace we’d been seeking and it was time to celebrate.
Happy Anniversary, Rob. Here’s to 37 more years, sweetie pie. If time ain’t surreal, what is?