As I was looking at my upcoming appointments at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I noticed something amazing, something that has a constant impact on my life in both physical and spiritual ways.
It has been one year after cancer treatment ended and there are all sorts of follow-up appointments. There were 2 tests to check my heart and lung functioning which ironically was scheduled on my mother’s birthday. It’s followed by another test and then an appointment with my oncologist to discuss all the test results. That appointment is scheduled on my father’s birthday.
A coincidence, some would say, but seeing my appointments on those dates sent warm loving ripples throughout my body because not only did it feel like my mom and dad are watching over me but at that moment of realization, I was loving them too, grateful that they were there.
I grew up in a Sephardic Jewish family where holidays were strictly observed. I followed all the rituals along with my family without question and as a teenager I even worked in a day camp at a nearby girl’s Yeshiva. The Rabbi started to teach me morning prayers. I tried it for a short while, but it was all words in a language I didn’t understand and for me, following Jewish law seems like more of an intellectual exercise than a faith that came from the heart. While some people express a certain amount of pride because they follow the rules, it wasn’t a path that held any meaning for me so eventually I moved away from religion altogether and spent the holidays enjoying wonderful dinners with my family instead.
I began my meditation practice in my thirties and as it progressed, I began to become acquainted with a higher power that is separate from the religion of my childhood, and more recently I’ve been learning, like the joke about the monk who orders a hot dog from a street vendor “Make me one with everything,” that we are all connected and that the higher power lies within us. When we connect with this energy we are connecting with a Universal force: it is a practice that has many beautiful moments when the path is clear and times when I feel stuck, like a bad connection when internet is down. I am understanding that it is all part of the spiritual path so when something like the coincidence in dates occurs I see it as a message: “we are here for you, whether you realize it or not, we are there, loving you, watching and listening.” When I am able to recognize this, the gates open and I am reminded that there is love and faith and goodness even in the darkest moments, and that when I am open to seeing it, it will be there. My mother and father are looking out for me, when in life it wasn’t as easy, but they never stopped loving me and with love comes forgiveness, the biggest blessing of all.