Is God Love?
A Journey of Discovery
No one knows when a journey will begin, a journey of discovery. Sometimes the light of spirit moves us but the most important aspect of change is to recognize that change is needed. I was at that point in my life back in 1991. I had just buried my mother who suffered with a very debilitating form of Alzheimer’s disease. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, a circumstance which dictated change in my life. Clearly the loss of my mother left me with the feeling that I was on my own. My own diagnosis left me with the sense that I was alone. I wasn’t, but the loss of someone so important to my sense of self was devastating. There is something about the mother child-dynamic which does not exist on any other plane of life.
At the time, I was working as a charge nurse in the nursery of a small community hospital. Despite my grief and the disheartening diagnosis, I could not ignore the demands of a very intense and high pressured job. Strangely, the stress balanced the increasing depression associated with the surgery, therapy and radiation looming large in my future. Into that whirling pool of life’s challenges, I was confronted with little choice about my future. This is where I found that journey of discovery.
My job gave me the wonderful opportunity to meet so many families. I worked, and still do, in the Obstetrical unit. In my part of the city, we prided ourselves on providing service to the community in sixty-six languages. Compared to the larger corporate hospitals, our community based facility was considered small and low risk but the unique ability to provide culturally sensitive service brought us large volumes of fairly recent and ESL(English as a Second Language) immigrants. Despite our size we were busy.
In 1991 Obstetrical prenatal assessments were not as sophisticated as we are now. I credit an early diagnosis and treatment with saving my life but for many women, the distress of moving to a new country and leaving behind close family was always compounded by the inability to provide adequate prenatal and general health histories. Many lives included factors of violence, abuse, war and death. Some families had barely escaped with their lives from war torn countries. Early diagnostic screening was an unheard of luxury for many of them. Receiving these women into our care presented great challenges. Many had children previously. Without an adequate medical history we were working in the dark. It would be impossible to articulate what I saw as a nurse during that challenging period of my life but what I learned from the intensity of care was that courage comes when we feel at our lowest ebb.
We are nothing if we don’t find out selves moved by the ways in which we learn from the stories of others. It was into this environment which I brought my own grief and fear and learned a lesson I will never forget.
I can’t recall every story I heard over the years but many are too compelling to be forgotten. When relevant I have tried, in so many ways, to share some anecdotes in other areas of my work. Sometimes the need to write about these experiences is overwhelming and this blog provides the time and space. It allows me to bring to light the story of one family, who changed my life and spiritually transported me into another world of understanding. Their story is not one of war and despair. I had heard horrific tales over and over from other families but this story was a simple crisis of faith and how their cultural heritage and belief systems were challenged. In order to save the life of their daughter they had to embrace change. In doing so, they brought me to a new understanding of the strength of the human spirit.
Part Two to follow soon.