I kept something from you. I kept it inside its cotton bag, in my purse.
There were several coping mechanisms that just seemed to evolve for me, as your disease progressed. Sometimes I planned components of a life without you, because I felt I had to think about that. I was glad that toward the end, we could talk a bit about my future. It was hard to hear your wishes for me, and surreal to tell you of plans that did not include you.
I have always been drawn to stones. In my nana’s garden. At the beach. Shaped stone in the form of beads. The idea that stones can have meaning is not just comforting for me, I can feel the related energy.
I will never forget the energy that accompanied your diagnosis. Hung in the air of your apartment when I brought you home. Walked with us as we limped through the Christmas craft market, where we went to replace your stolen wallet. It felt like death. Except that now death feels like peace. That energy was not peaceful; it was a static rage.
“You don’t have to stick around. I release you.” I think those were your words. I wish I could remember your exact sentences. At first I panicked that you were not going to give me a choice, that you were pushing me away. My next feeling was of what it would be like to live without you, and that sent me spinning. Then I came around to the not so posed question. “What are you talking about?” I stated. “I’m not going anywhere. I am right here with you.” I wasn’t convinced that you were going to let me stay at your side. But the idea of walking away from someone I loved when they had just been diagnosed with cancer, did not compute for me.
I remember moments when you had moved into my townhouse, when I would simply stand and watch you from outside of the bedroom as you struggled with the side effects of chemo. I heard you comment to your family that I seemed terrified. I think this was perhaps when I began to step back from you, even though it appeared as if I was hovering. I began to step back without seeing it, and observe your process. Your release. My care.
My reiki master says that my compass is in my solar plexus. The mala she made for me has a compass on one side of the guru bead. The beads of the mala point towards creative expression, maintain strength and courage, manifest wisdom and inner power, awaken (my) soul to its intended purpose, and ground and protect (me). I kept this mala in my purse so that there was something for me. Of me. And I have worn it each day, since you passed.
Malas are a means of counting. Mantras. Breaths. Prostrations. I called them your exorcisms, those moments when I witnessed your flat out release of what needed to pass . . . so that you might too. And I did count them. “The first exorcism,” I would remind myself, and reflect upon what I had watched unfold from you. Each one told a story that I needed to repeat to understand.
We left some beautiful malas with some beautiful people in Costa Rica, people who offered us retreat and who extended that space to us once we were home again. I marvel when I reflect on the village that emerged and grew as we lived with your disease.
And you took some beautiful malas with you. Onyx and turquoise; patience and communication. Coral; the energy of the ocean. I am reading about Medusa and the healing crystal that formed from her death. I am reading about transformation and immeasurable joy . . .