On Dec 2017, I visited a young six year old at SickKids, one of the world’s foremost children’s hospitals. His mother had just received news that her child had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The doctors gave him 11 months. I could not believe how graceful and poised she was. When we had a moment alone, she asked me in a calm voice, not laden with self pity or “why me” sentiment, if she had been bestowed this as punishment for not being the best she could be in her treatment of others. She then said she was blessed that she had had six good years of amazing memories, no matter what the future held. I held her tightly, to my chest, tears streaming down my eyes and said in response the following. “I believe in karma and since I have known you to be a deeply spiritual and poised human, over the 20 years I have known you, I can only say that you are exhausting any negative karma you have accumulated over lifetimes. I have no doubt you will experience the highest truth and the fullness of your true being right here. Your child was born in a sacred womb to exhaust his. I know of no other way to explain this”. I realize that her poise is testament to her being present and accepting everything in the most open way without resistance or the clutter of emotional reactions. This is giving her the clarity to do everything right by everyone in the here and now. This is evident in her manner which is infused with boundless compassion and respect for all, even at a time when she could get away with being her most self indulgent and self absorbed self. For eg, she asked after my husband and kid!
Fast forward to the present. Her child has defied all odds and has survived to this day. She has made every day count filling it with marvellous experiences through sun and snow. She wakes up every day at 4 am and after 2 hours of self care, meditation, exercise (so she has strength to carry him and tend to him) and makeup, she tackles the day. She usually has an elaborate plan and takes public transport everywhere. She makes a day out of every trip to the hospital. He has just had a stroke and undergone 12 rounds of radiation for the third time. He cannot walk anymore and so she pushes him around in his wagon, while she holds her daughter with her other hand. She is joyful and present filling his life with laughter and fun. I have never met anyone like her. She is my role model and inspiration. When we ask her if she wants any help, she just says “Thank you, but I think I will just wear my big girl panties and get it done and, don’t worry, if I really need help I will ask!”. She never does. I cannot even begin to recount the tragedies in her early life..a terminal father who died when she was a teenager, a sibling with mental health struggles, a mother with health challenges and her own health issues. She just picks herself up, never complains and gets things done. She teaches me how to live. Whatever the outcome, I know she will scale this challenge also in a most exemplary way! Here she is at Toronto’s Harbourfront with her kids after a radiation sit, making a picnic out of it.