A few years ago, I had uncontrolled vomiting in the middle of the night. My husband, being a physician, usually takes care of any illness in our family, but he was traveling and my mother, who is not a doctor, was staying with us to help out.
My younger son woke to the sounds and walked to the bathroom to check out the scene. Wordlessly, he went to get his grandmother to help, and returned to bed. Lucky him.
My mother asked if she should call the doctor or do anything. I told her that I already called, that they suggested that I go into the hospital but I wanted to stay home.
I was getting sick more and more frequently, until it got to the point where I would just lay on the bathroom floor, knowing it would be only minutes before I had to return anyway.
So, my mother got a pillow and blanket for me, then she sat. All night long, she sat in a rocker in my room, there in case I needed her. I’m sure she felt helpless, but she sat, awake, trusting my call. I was getting snippets of sleep, but every time I woke, she was there, unintrusive but clearly ready to help if I needed her. My vomiting finally subsided in the early morning light, when she then had to feed the kids and get them to school while I slept.
Recently, I had horrific stomach cramps late at night. My husband had to work the next day, and because I want well-rested radiologists reading my scans, I felt like he should be well-rested for his patients. I asked him to go another room to get some sleep.
The pains had me screaming, waking my older son, who came to see how I was doing. He sat next to me, with a hand on my stomach, not saying a word. If you know our older son, this wordlessness in itself is rare. But there he sat, focused and breathing healing energy into my body. Again, I got snippets of sleep, and every time I woke, he was there, watching me and reassuring me, in a soothing voice, that it would be alright.
The past couple of days, I was ill from chemo and the dog did not leave my side. His body on the bed, touching my legs or feet, he only left when someone carried him outside. He would stay outside for only a moment and then run back to my side.
Each time, in the midst of my physical pain, each person’s (and our dog’s) presence made me feel immeasurably better, calmer, less alone in my funky experiences. It helped me to stay the course.
I am not someone who naturally can just sit with someone. I need to do, or to talk. I prefer to multitask; doing just one thing feels like slowing down. I cannot imagine sitting, just being there, totally present, especially in the face of feeling helpless.
Yet, this was the most valuable to me, in these weird, dark moments, and the best medicine I could have. I feel awe for the power of being, of holding space, transferring positive healing energy, and am grateful.