Peace, Peace: our universe of caregivers

Traversing my inner space wearing the lens of metastatic disease, my inner eye wanders into dark places at times. The glasses have me reading invisibilities into ideas that have no real importance. Ideas such as what my life’s purpose what could I possibly serve the world when at the moment I was diagnosed with #metastatic breast cancer three years ago, my needs far outweigh my ability to give. Many days my questions return only an inner sigh of response. My contributions and defining myself and my roles becomes so foggy, so unclear to me.

Further with a partner recovering finally from long term #depression it becomes even more unclear: is my condition a contributing factor? How can he not see me as even slightly inspiring to want to get well and do the work outside of the psychiatrist’s office? Eh. It’s all so, “boohoo, poor little me!” I tell myself to get over it, just as my chemo arrives via UPS, which ironically I could not afford the $3000 copay for without financial assistance. I recive a gift monthly to get my life extending #chemotherapy, #Ibrance from anonymous and generous people who donate to the Patient Advocacy Foundation, for which I am grateful.

After a morning of inner question wrestling, I finally wrenched my sorry self up and stole away for a few quiet moments today to work on revisions of some poetry. This, while I could listen in and out to a program on astrophysics that the C was watching, making me feel even smaller and inconsequential! Then a gift from my friend Elizabeth arrived in the form of an email, and just when the universe’s infinite wisdom knew it should. Her note reminded me of my importance above and beyond an old outdated and outwardly defined meaning of “self.” She complimented me on the poem I wrote for a memorial for her mentor. I am so grateful to have contributed in some small way in helping Elizabeth in her mourning process. Her mentor, Jnani Chapman, who was the true embodiment of how healing can transpire through faith, love, human touch, and yoga practices.

She remains an inspiration who helped so many with cancer and training those who dedicate their lives to helping us. I met Elizabeth and Jnaini at the #Cancer Help Program (CHP), which I attended last October. Elizabeth took over Jnani’s massage therapy room where she practiced for almost 30 years. It’s in a very sacred place in this world and you’d have to truly experience it to how the place itself ushers in healing and peace. My photos don’t transmit much of this feeling but you can see a little of it if you venture into my portfolio on this blog.

Jnaini died in December unexpectedly in an automobile accident as she traveled south to catch a flight back east late one night after a CHP retreat at #Commonweal in Bolinas, California. I told my friend that undoubtedly Jnaini would want her to give her gifts and carry on her legacy in that room. Once an understudy, the time had come to take over as the leading lady. Elizabeth, like Jnaini, is an amazingly talented, empathic, and beautiful woman who offers the world care and love. I reminded her the importance of not forgetting about herself and to take time for self care. Any of us can become so enraptured in the gift of helping others at times we forget or we believe we don’t need, or worse, don’t deserve self care and loving kindness from others. We all deserve love and care and beauty every single day, be we cancer patients, caregivers, physicians, nurses, non profits, and the list of supporting people we can forget as cancer patients are out there battling along on our behalf’s.

We all must remember that the state of mind we call “alone”or “lonely” really is just that, a state of mind. If we allow the goodness in the world to enter our soul spaces and stop minding the sole space we physically and temporarily exist in at a given moment, then perhaps a smile rather than tears washes the pain of our disease away and let’s healing take its place. Sometimes, even the vastness of the universe as seen through the astrophysicist’s telescope doesn’t make us seem all that inconsequential after all.

And as Michael and Waz two of the founders of the CHP close out a discussion at Commonweal, “peace, peace.”

Fly Away Home, Blessed Body

In Memorium, Jnani Chapman

“Blessed body heal this beauty,”
Her song flowed gently —
We lived longer in her hands.
Once, all at one time
She let fly love’s bounty:
The heart’s harvest floating on
A barge atop a boundless wave.
Rivers of tears flow beyond our sight,
Farther this time — please, to not return.
Within the star white
Light of the quilted night, sewn into
A blanket of every color
By her own hands.
Swinging movements to and back
Here, to find the constant:
Love equals gravity plus motion.

Calling to us on the shoreline,
With a Cheshire smile
We wave her back in, yet
Calliope, turned to me
Whispering in the wind,
“Wish her safe passage, instead.”
Lifting our eyes to the skies
Ethereal blue air filled
With the soft silence of
Dandelion feathers blowing
And billowing in winter’s dusk.
Everywhere, time to head home.
All the better for knowing
Grace once embodied us
With the cure of her touch.

Let night shine with a million bits
Of candlelit diamond dust and
Let her spirit dance and spin in
Swirling white wild robes.
We seek the wide eyed child
Instead finding her silk sails had set
A course just above the curve
Of earth, into the horizon.
Glimmering into the shimmer
Of the red ruby crystal day
Behind the shadow of the sun.
Landing everywhere together
Touching every space, untethered
To the mystery unseen,
Now shimmering in us and in between.

A blue velvet bag opened by this single
Movement – her hand reached
Into the spaciousness above
And all stars’ light unpacked, and
Secreted away in drawer full of daydreams.
Now the seashore glistens
With the promise of night, and
Eternally luminous
With all the befores,
And all the ever afters,
Moving our millions of tears
Into a single smiling river.
“Goodnight my beautiful bodies,”
And we fly away home, laughing.

The Second Line

Not the first, nor ever last,
The Second Line dances ecstatically past.
Behind the mourners, they’re not the saints,
All uplifted, marching in crowded street’s restraints.
Wheeling, turning, lift and fall with porch swings,
All souls rise upon the polls and upon night’s owl’s wings.

Arriving I walked through stranded streets,
Leaving, I grasp a heart (as my own skipped a beat.)
Coming to hear my disease my diagnosis,
Going to feel your hands opening my prognosis.
“I believe you understood I needed nothing!”
Somehow I left the sand untracked, forgetting every something,
And now I remember to choose without no judgement (or cups or wands)—
The images I neatly packed tumbled and eroded into sand.
When I lost my vision I cannot recall, but you held me in your light,
Though I came to find my courage, I dance away with second sight.