“She will die if you love her not” – William Shakespeare [Much Ado About Nothing]
I have a theory. I believe that love, deep deep love, has incomparable healing qualities.
Love healed my uncle
The last time I came to Australia prior to moving here, was to say good-bye to my uncle. He had a brain tumour and it was caught late. He’d undergone radiotherapy but it wasn’t to be cured. My Grandad rang mum saying “Come now, this is it”. We received the call at 10am and by 1pm we were at Heathrow ready to fly out to Perth. We landed at midnight local time where Grandad collected us from the airport.
I have the most fond and bittersweet memories of Grandad at airports. When he’d greet us, with Grandma, we’d all be full of joy, tears would flow and the hugs were full of gratitude. We were all thankful to be together again. The other times it would be to depart, still more tears, but these were full of question – When will we see each other again?
I don’t remember if there were any tears when we landed on this occasion. It was different. Grandma was at home and it was just mum and me who had flown out rather than the whole family.
We drove straight to Uncle Cam’s house. He was curled up in a hospital bed that had been installed in the house. He slept like an infant, defenceless. There he lay with his partner asleep beside him. My tall athletic uncle was so thin, scars sprawled across his head and his remaining hair appeared like a duckling’s feathers sprouting for the first time. Given it was late, someone went into the bedroom ahead of us and gently woke the sleeping pair. As they rubbed their eyes, becoming accustomed to the light, we filtered in. Cam couldn’t even hold himself to sit upright for the weakness that had overtaken his once strong body. Someone rearranged pillows and then moved Cam so he was perpendicular.
Sitting upright wasn’t the only thing that Cam couldn’t do. He couldn’t walk, shower or get food, among many other basic actions. His speech was slurred and hard to understand.
That night when we arrived and he leant against the supporting pillows his beautiful blue eyes, the colour of the ocean, fixated on my mum. Growing up mum, one of five, was the only girl. She and Cameron were the closest in age and behaved like twins. All four of her brothers never address her by her name, just ‘sis’; the only girl, their sis. The way Cam starred at his sis was magical. He was foggy, too tired to speak, but he knew. He couldn’t figure out exactly who I was but he recognised me enough to know that I was something to do with mum and occasionally looked at me but his gaze was impossible to distract.
I stayed for 10 days and then flew home alone to go back to school. By day five of my stay Uncle Cam was walking around, showering unassisted and cracking jokes like he would have before the terminal illness took its toll. That day he lay in a hammock outside, swaddled in cushions and blankets, with a beer and a packet of snowballs. He smoked a joint and laughed unapologetically. His dog had had a litter of puppies, which he cuddles and loved. The whole day was beyond idyllic!
It was incomprehensible that in five days his condition had changed so dramatically! The only way I can understand this rapid improvement is that love is a phenomenal medicine. The love my uncle felt because of his sis travelling over 9000 miles to be with him. That kind of love transcends biological and medical comprehension.
Uncle Cam lived another 3 months after mum’s visit when the doctors had given him 48 hours the day we flew out.
My own healing experience
Now, I am by no means comparing what I’ve been through this year health wise to cancer, but I observed a similar sequence of events when I turned a corner with my energy. While I was in London my energy was still volatile. In fact I had some devastatingly bad days.
I would often get tired in the afternoon but I almost collapsed first thing in the morning when just going or breakfast with my dad. Mum had to drive me home, as I was hysterical and in tears, frustrated with my lack of strength. I couldn’t keep up with my niece and nephews in fact the three-year-old twins were walking faster than me. I lost vision and had no feeling in my left arm after climbing the stairs. I had to cancel on my friends for a humble get together. I was taken in a wheel chair through the 3 airports I encounters both to and from Australia.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. My friends were so kind and generous with their time, they all travelled to visit me so that I didn’t have to go far from my Mum’s house (I was scared to go far in case I crashed I’d need to get to bed quickly). I went to my friend’s son’s 1st birthday party and my friend’s dad’s 60th. At both occasions I was able to sneak off for a nap mid event, and re-join everyone after. Being out scared me, but being at people’s homes where I feel comfortable was perfect.
When I stayed at my sister’s house the kids let me go for sleeps even outside of their napping schedule. My sister went above and beyond to cater for my new diet and even calmed me mid panic attack. She already has to look after 4 little people who rely on her, and she still found the time, energy and compassion to care for me so wonderfully.
Dad was a bit out of his depths with my foodstuff but he spent time with me, listening to me brainstorm about my new way of life. He only gently teased me when I ordered decaf coffee!
My mum bought heaps of vegan and gluten free delights for me to have at home. She cuddled me on the couch, gave me rides and let me drive her car. More than that, she loved my like only a Mummy can.
Almost as soon as I got back to Sydney something shifted. I remember as soon as I recovered from the jet lag I was walking with more purpose than I had in months. I can recall walking, fast, my legs appeared strong. I literally looked down at them marvelling. I put my hands on my thighs stunned by their power. It had been 18 weeks since I’d walked like that. It felt so amazing for my legs to actually do what they were made to do! Most importantly, I felt increasingly more positive having been with the special people in my life that love me deeply. Love and a positive attitude are a powerful combination.
After months of replacement therapy, months of lying on the couch, months of a new diet and little to no signs of improvement. Finally, I’ve turned a corner and am constantly progressing.
It’s amazing what a little love can do.