Monday, April 2, 2012

Bumpy Postoperative Course: Spiritual

When the neurologist was evaluating my mental status, a woman who has been my friend for some 30 years was in the room. I didn’t recognize her. But on another occasion I did, and I spoke to her from deep within my soul. She came to visit me and remarked on how much better I looked and how much better I was moving. I replied, “But I am in the depths of despair.”

She recounted this to me several weeks after I was discharged home. I knew immediately what had happened. I had seen “the other side” and was deciding to continue my life on this side rather than give in to death.

Steve Jobs’ sister said that as he was dying he was looking ahead at a certain spot and exclaimed, “OH WOW! OH WOW! OH WOW!” That’s how good it is across the veil and why the process of choosing to stay here meant wrestling in the depths of despair.

It was a brave decision in a certain sense because what lay ahead of me was six weeks of the most grueling, painful ordeal I have ever endured. I did not turn the corner in my recuperation until the week of Leap Day.

My belief is that purgatory is actually lived out in whole or in part here on Earth before death. Suffering is an integral part of that process of burning off the dross of our misdeeds, wrongful thoughts and sins of omission. Thus I also regard my depths of despair and my rugged period of initial recovery as a purgatory. 

Fortunately, I cannot recall those excruciating six weeks in much detail. I know the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) had a nurse at our home the day after my discharge from the hospital and at least weekly thereafter. I also had a VNA physical therapist and a VNA occupational therapist who each came twice weekly. And John would take me to at least two doctors’ appointments every week as well. 

All these visits with healers buoyed me. The doctors and the VNA women each gave me a compassionate ear as well as expert information. They supported my progress as well as my sense of myself as a worthy and worthwhile woman. 

It is a genuine spiritual mystery to me how it was that so many people reached out to me with love, prayers, good thoughts, healing vibrations, and other gifts and cards.  There is not one scintilla of doubt in my mind that this was absolutely critical to my determined drive to live and to rise up through the pain and sorrow.

“Feeling the import of the possibility of cancer on the way home [from the doctor’s office], I asked for a sign. I saw the extraordinary: an egret standing by the pond in the parkway near my home. I felt soothed and grateful. This is all going to be okay” (see, “The Long and Winding Road to Diagnosis,” August 20, 2011).

But I did not expect it to be the journey I in fact have been living, what with chemotherapy, surgery and a shockingly slow recovery. I did not expect to pay this price.

Then again I did not expect to receive such abundant grace and know this depth of maturity. I am renewed, refreshed, reborn. And optimistic.

I appreciate the synchronicity with the great Christian remembrances of sorrowful Good Friday, restful Holy Saturday, and joyful Resurrection Sunday. I intend to meld all my suffering with the Crucified Christ on Friday, rest with Him on Saturday and rise to even greater spiritual joy on Easter.

© Jean DiMotto, 2012       Website: