April brought darkness to my door. Overwhelming my soul with the realities of facing an unknown guest in my physical home, in my body. The Rumi poem says welcome them all, but I thought what a suggestion! How could I welcome this unexpected visitor into my home? I felt like I was falling and I wasn’t sure I would ever get up.
As I ran home from across the street, working on a group yearbook project for my son’s elementary school, the phone rang. I hesitated, and yet I picked it up. It was not yet the age of cell phones, and I reached for the landline we all once had in our homes. How I wished I had never picked up that call. Perhaps it would have not been real then. Was that the moment that changed everything? Or was it already too late?
My doctor was on the other end of the line; in fact he was one of the doctors at the general practice I had visited lately in an effort to figure out if I had an ear infection. They had emphatically told me no, instead I had a sinus infection. Having a lot of first hand knowledge of sinus issues with my son, who had already had surgery for the same in his short life span, I knew that pushing medications at me wasn’t going to fix it. We needed to see the root cause of the problem, and so I asked for a CT scan. It took some time to get that cleared with insurance, etc., but I had finally obtained the CT. On that day, as I reached for the phone, I wasn’t even thinking about the CT scan. However, my doctor was thinking of it. He was calling to tell me that my sinuses looked great! Wonderful, good news I thought! He paused then, and said, however, we found something else . . . you have a brain tumor. Before I could even digest this news, he was telling me that I would need an MRI immediately and someone would be calling me soon to schedule the same. As I hung up the phone I felt like I was in a dream. I returned to the project with the other women across the street. At some point it hit me, I broke down and shared what had just happened to me.
Life passed in a blur. I had the MRI, which confirmed that it was indeed a brain tumor, and that it looked like a meningioma, which is typically a good kind of brain tumor. Who knew there were good kinds of brain tumors to get! I consulted surgeons, read all I could, meditated, which honestly was the first time for me to adapt that way of being. I picked my neurosurgeon and headed to San Francisco for my surgery, which was a success and my 3 cm. right parietal brain tumor was removed on May 13, 2002. I had made it! I was humbled. I felt joyous when I received the news that the tumor itself was benign, which is the case for most meningioma’s occurring in women. Now all I had to do was recover and be grateful.
It took me a long time to recover, more than a year and I still carry some issues from that tumor. The bumps in my skull will always be present as will the titanium plate and screw system that holds the piece of skull in place they removed to perform the surgery. My balance is still affected, as are some other small deficits. I welcome them all! The brain tumor was definitely an unexpected guest in my house, and yet it awoke me to becoming a better human being. I was lost before it arrived, lost in the world of my larger than life successful attorney husband. While always a spiritual person, I had been fast trading that way of living in for one that was more status oriented. This unexpected guest woke me from a slumber and it truly was a guide from beyond.
Little did I know how much I would need it, for not two years later my husband was snatched by the claws of death from our doorstep, again forcing me to reexamine all that I was. This time was perhaps even worse, as he left me basically nothing and I was forced to begin again. I had no home, no car, had given up my career to support his, etc., but I had a beautiful 12 year old son to love and raise
Unexpected guests have a way of bringing a spotlight to one’s weaknesses, and if we are still and listen we can find our way out of the darkness and into the light once again. As I sit typing this, the dawn is beginning and the dark night sky is turning into day. I stand in gratitude for all that I have in this lifetime, and know that each unexpected guest really does serve as a guide. Welcome and entertain them all!
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi
My name is Heather, and I am blessed with a wonderful life, just as you are because we are all alive on this beautiful planet right this very moment. I studied and obtained a degree in Art History with a minor in History, both of which I never used for their intended purpose. I made a choice, and had the option, to be a stay at home mom and raise two stepsons and my greatest blessing, my son. All are grown and out into the world. I was married for almost 20 years to their father, whom we unexpectedly lost in 2004. It was very tragic on a number of levels, which brought me to the point of wanting to share my voice with other women in particular. I am also a brain tumor survivor, having been diagnosed in 2002 with a meningioma. I have been tumor free since May 13, 2002 when I underwent a craniotomy, and life is good! As you see, my story, while different from each, is not without a little rain, which is something we must all be able to shoulder and most importantly hold our voice and place in the universe while doing so. Admittedly, I was not always good at these things and I am still very much a work in progress. I am a Certified Instructor at Journal to the Self® and have been able to share this gift with The Grief Project at its Sacred Journey Gathering in Minneapolis, as well as for a local hospice grief group. I have also studied crystal healing under the guidance of John Corsa. I am also a 200-hour RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) and am looking forward to seeing where that path might lead me. I am fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful relationships, a strong spiritual practice, as well as a great dog, and if all else fails there is always chocolate and wine! ~Namaste
There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.~Nelson Mandela
You can also find Heather on Facebook.
Written for the From Darkness to Light event. If you’d like to be a part of the challenge, find more information Here. But first, leave a comment and let Heather know what you think about her words, and be sure to visit her over at Wildflower Woman when you’re done.