I recently accompanied my sister to a chemotherapy treatment. We enjoyed a beautiful drive down the island - the sun was shining, the water was sparkling, and the road was edged with summer greenery.
When we arrived at the hospital it was very busy, and we were seated in a small nook for her treatment, because the main room was full. She sat in her reclining lounge chair, and was hooked up to intravenous fluids that dripped into the vein in her arm. There was a little table on wheels beside her chair, and I sat kitty-corner to her on a visitor’s chair.
We talked at times, sipping coffee and tea that volunteers brought around. Sometimes we sat in silence, enjoying the day and each other’s company. Nurses came and went
frequently, checking the drip, adjusting the flow, and taking good care of everyone.
A short time after my sister’s treatment began, a second pair of sisters came into the nook, and sat together while one received treatment. They were strikingly beautiful women with chic, silver hair, and they glowed with vitality. They seemed to like each other a lot, and to be enjoying each other’s company – chatting sometimes, laughing softly at other times.
Awhile later a third pair of sisters came in, and were seated close to us. The woman being treated looked withdrawn and scared. It was her first appointment. Her sister tried to cajole her into interacting, but she did not get much response. The sister who accompanied her cast us a few longing glances, as if it was a familiar pattern between the two of them. It seemed she wanted to connect but was at a loss. We smiled over at her from time to time to invite them both in, but they were a bit far away for a conversation. Those sisters also looked to be close in age to my sister and I. After about an hour, a problem developed with the treatment, and the nurse had to find another vein and restart the intravenous drip from the beginning.
When my sister and I got hungry we took out the lunches we had brought from home and ate quietly together. I thought about the many thousands of meals we had shared, at different ages, and in different times and places.
After lunch an older couple came and sat beside us in the last pair of seats left in the room. The wife was receiving treatment. They were originally from Germany and had lived in Canada for many years. They had been married for 50 years.
They did not say much, but in them I saw a quality of loving acceptance for each other, and for the process that both were going through. I enjoyed being close to them for the last part of our time there.
We were in the clinic for about 3 hours, and I noticed as we left that I felt very differently from when I arrived. When I had entered the building, I felt apprehension. Anxiety was present in my mind. It started to lighten as I settled in, and I felt happiness begin to trickle in. Peace followed. My mind began to fill with these things. The experience continued and expanded into a deep feeling of love, acceptance and joy. By the time we left I felt rich with love and overwhelmed with gratitude. This feeling stayed with me as we drove home, and lasted for a few days.
Some time later I realized what I had experienced in the treatment room that day:
Underneath all that seemed to be going on, I felt an endless wave of love, given and received with no distinction. Waxing and waning, back and forth, over and under, through and around. No part of what was in the room was left out of that effortless flow. I understood that this flow is all that is true, anywhere, at any time, regardless of what seems to be going on. It belongs to me, to you, to us. It is us.
If there were words in the flow they would be this:
“I love you”.
“Thank you for being on this journey with me.”
By Dawn Green
Categories & Authors