A River of Pain

Compassion is a river of youth that will never run dry.” – Drukchen Rimpoche of Ladakh

No pilgrimage.  No Waldo Lake.  No healing prayers for our beloved river.  Instead, I fell on September 8th in a neighbor’s driveway, and broke my right wrist in four places, a grotesque sight.  Ambulance, ER for 8 hours or so, pain and a week later, a brutal surgery to repair the breaks.  My surgeon is a lovely woman, highly skilled, and tender; but the surgery, O my God.  I entered a river of pain that didn’t shift for weeks on end.  Of course I reached for drugs, I had to.  But the pain – I was swimming in it.

I learned more about pain.   If I followed my breath, in, connect to the pain, become aware, then out, let it go, in, connect to the pain, become aware, then out, let it go… if I could do that, one breath at a time, I could sometimes manage the pain.  Keeping mindfulness in the chaos and wash of such pain, I discovered little tiny stepping stones of comfort.  In this moment, I am okay.  Then the river of pain.  Then another moment where I was okay.  Then the river of pain.  Another moment.  If I lost mindfulness, I drowned in the pain.  On and on we went, stumbling through to finally now, no pain.  I can open jars, mostly.  I can type, and write by hand.  I can dress myself and take a bath.  I can eat food without being ill: I lost 10 pounds in 3 months.

Friends and neighbors, and my husband Eric, took exquisite, compassionate care of me.  Their compassion held me intact when the waves of pain were too much. Our dogs stayed close, and watched over me quietly.  Weeks flowed by in a blur.  Others cleaned and cooked and folded laundry and I learned how to be gracefully dependent.  Sort of.

Walking down to the river around Christmas,  I’m surprised to see how low the water level is.  It’s lower than late summer.  No rain.  No snow in the mountains.  DSC00280

Tonight, the healing sound of rain.  Blessed rain.  What is it that old country song used to sing?  God and the rain will bring it back!  And so, we begin again in the New Year.

For those of you who sent prayers and songs and poems for our river, I have saved them all; we’ll plan another trip this year, in 2014, probably in September.


About susankerrshawn

Retired Hakomi therapist and body worker; community activist; writer; environmentalist. Happily married to an amazing man. Thinking about many things as I reflect on my nearby river, the Willamette, a trustworthy spiritual guide if there ever was one! And how it is to live with a terminal diagnosis of kidney cancer.
This entry was posted in Centering Prayer, Community, Healing, Healing the Willamette, Tibetan Buddhism, Waldo Lake and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A River of Pain

  1. davichon says:

    so 1970, and “just” a love song, but I offer “Let it rain”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y86kDFaJ2h4

  2. brucethomasw says:

    It’s amazing how life is so tenuous and resilient, all at once. It is good you are healing well Susan.

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