I was running late to my first meditation workshop. Only five minutes after it started, but I was still late. This is not a habitual pattern for me; I am either on time or early to an appointment, meeting, or dinner with friends. The ache of time passing is something I sense and understand even through ordinary circumstances. This year, in particular, my daughter will enter kindergarten and I will inch even closer to age forty. This past week, I learned also that time can remind you of why you exist and that you must pay attention to certain whispers that yell at you in the middle of the night.
It was no accident that I sought meditation at this particular time in my life. This past week I walked the route of something that was wholly familiar to me, one that involved the word cancer and a parent. My mother experienced some very unusual symptoms which required urgent medical attention. Within four days of her initial symptom, I secured an appointment with a physician. In the exam room, the doctor says, “We must perform a biopsy.” Shit, I think. She said the B word, a real curse word.
The waiting before the results encompasses this: researching the symptoms and trying to form your own diagnosis, talking to friends who are doctors even if they have no experience in this particular speciality, engaging in tons of speculation, and burying yourself in a laundry pile of worrying. Many times in my head, I kept saying, “This is not happening again. I cannot lose another parent. We are not ready for regular visits to the doctor or CT scans or chemotherapy or radiation or stale coffee in hospital waiting rooms. It is too soon to revisit this.”
Because we were in the transition between tests and results, I longed to find a pathway to embrace the uncertainty. The truth is that when outcomes are uncertain I gravitate toward the negative. The worst case scenario becomes the only route that I can visualize. As I talked with my sister about Mom’s upcoming test results, I asked her, “What if it is something terminal? What are we going to do?” My sister and I are nine years apart, but she still gets me and says “You can’t think that what happens to Dad will happen to Mom. Do not jump to the worst conclusion.” A large part of my core gravitates toward fatalistic outcomes. It’s been magnified since our father passed away.
And it is something I am aware of everyday. The sensitivity to living with shallow breaths instead of deep ones. In my meditation, something else revealed itself to me. The instructor kept talking about the gaps between the breath and the dips that happen as we inhale and exhale. It is in the space between the breaths that God lives. And that we must trust the natural pauses. Through the meditation I learned it is in those natural pauses that I find the most uncertainty and that I am unable to get my footing. It is in these gaps where you find out bad news, a potential terminal diagnosis, a phone call from a friend that a grandfather passed away, or learning of other losses, jobs or friends or other loved ones.
It is the space between the breaths that bait me. And unsettle me.
Just days after the meditation workshop, I took a deeper breath as we learned that my mom is fine. I’m certain that I will hit that gap of uncertainty again.
I hope next time I will breath long and deep and trust the pause.
Are you good at waiting? Do you always fear the worst? Has meditation helped you deal with uncertain outcomes?
Image by giagir
This was a moving post. Thank you for sharing and I am happy your mom is doing fine. I have experienced losing a parent to cancer, so your post struck me in my gut. Love to you and your family!
Thank you for your well wishes. I am sorry for your loss Sheila. Love to you & yours too.
Rudri, I feel like I was on a journey with you as I held my breath reading. I am thankful that your mom is fine. So relieved for you. xoxo.
Thanks Ayala. I also am so relieved and am grateful that she is fine.
So glad to hear your mom’s fine. After what you’ve been through with your dad, who can blame you for fearing the worst? I hope you were able to enjoy the exhale my friend.
I did enjoy the exhale Justine. It was a deep breath. One that I took slowly and with intention. Thanks for your words.
What a relief with your mother. I’m so glad to hear all is well for now. Beautifully written reminder, Ru.
Thanks Kristi. I am honored that the reminder resonated with you. xoxo
So glad your mother is fine. It truly is the pause that we must learn to trust.
Thanks Suzi. I am learning to try and trust the pause. It is difficult to practice.
So glad to hear the news was good. This is a gorgeous piece of writing, Rudri. And this is exactly the sort of thing that reminds us to appreciate small moments of living – not perfect ones – but good ones.
Thanks Wolf. I put my heart in this post and wanted the writing to match what I felt inside. Your words and compliment mean so much. xoxo
Glad your mom’s fine. This was a beautiful post. I have felt for a long time that the space in between is where the action truly is. Trusting it, however, isn’t always so easy.
Learning to trust that pause is something I think I will have to cultivate over a lifetime. It is certainly not easy. Thanks so much for your words.
This is so inspirational! I never thought of the gaps between a breath like that before. It is sooo true. I could feel myself holding my breath to find out if your mom was ok. I realize that when I worry or expect the worst case scenario, I am holding my breath also! Thanks for the lesson in living and letting go of worry!! Miss you my long lost friend!
So nice to hear from you. I am honored that this post resonated with you. Worrying is something I do often almost like a habit, but my hope is that the meditation will make letting go a little easier.
How are you? What have you been up to since high school? Would love to hear from you.
My mom has to go in for a biopsy next week. They’re afraid her breast cancer may have reemerged, more than 15 years later. I keep telling her that it’s probably nothing, because I hope it is. I hope I’ll be able to breathe better when the results come in. I’m glad your mom is OK.
I hope it is nothing too. Sending positive thoughts your way. Have you learned of the outcome? Sending love and warm thoughts. xoxo
God. I almost lost my breath as I read this. No words.
I had no words when she said the B word. It was beyond grueling.
I’m so very glad she’s ok.
So glad to hear that your mother is OK and I’m sorry for your scare. This post is very beautiful. I hope that you continue to enjoy your meditation and once again, so sorry about your dad.
Thanks Judy for your thoughts. I trust that meditation is the right path for me. It will take me some time, though, to integrate it completely into my life.
Oh Rudri! I am so sorry I didn’t get here sooner, I’ve been travelling for work. I’m equally sorry that you had this worry and stress, how hard it must have been. I am so much like you in that I always assume the worst eventuality, I think losing a parent does that to you. But I’m so glad you’ve started meditation – you know how I feel about it. It’s an amazing experience that I’m sure you will grow to love.
No need to apologize. I understand.
Meditation is something I’ve thought about through various difficulties in my life and it is only now that I am embracing it as a choice. Thanks for your encouragement. Your authenticity in your posts about meditation has offered me guidance. xoxo
I am horrible at waiting and always jump to the worst conclusion. I know that I can deal with whatever comes my way. It’s the not knowing that kills mes.
I agree Cathy. It is the waiting that is so difficult. The anxiety and uncertainty is something I dislike so much.