Marjie said goodbye to me almost two weeks ago, although I didn’t fully realize it at the time. The cancer that began in her breast years ago returned last winter, and a few months ago it spread to her brain. When the new tumors were discovered in December, she said to me “I don’t think I’m going to get better this time. I think this is the beginning of the end.”
I’ve known Marjie for several years. We were in the same business networking group when I was a massage therapist. She became a client of mine until I closed my practice and went back to high tech. A year ago, a mutual friend told me that Marjie was sick again. The cancer had returned and spread to her bones. There would be no cure, but chemo and radiation could slow the progress of the inevitable. I was told that she was in pain and very weak. I called her later that day and offered a Reiki session to her. I told her that I’d been volunteering with Hospice, and that I’d just become a Reiki master, and that I needed and wanted to be practicing regularly. Would she consider receiving a treatment from me? I told her that Reiki had provided pain relief for one of my hospice clients, and if she felt it was beneficial, I’d be happy to give her ongoing treatments. I knew she wouldn’t ask. I knew she couldn’t afford it. So I offered it as a gift. As it turned out, it was a gift for me, and I’m deeply grateful that she accepted.
Marjie was a hypnotherapist, and had been trained in Reiki as well. She knew that according to Reiki tradition, a practitioner is not supposed to do Reiki for free. There should be an exchange of some sort. So Marjie almost always had some small gift for me – a dozen cookies that a friend had baked, a pendulum she had made years ago from gems and crystals she bought on one of her many trips to Sedona, a flower vase she no longer wanted, a large pink quartz crystal with a light inside. When I was remodeling my kitchen she helped me design it, offering me more wisdom and advice than I could have hoped for, and taking me to the Expo center to pick out tile. I never required any material gift from her, the gift for me was just to be present, to be with her on her journey, to create a sacred space with her.
For over a year I saw Marjie every Monday afternoon. I’d set up my massage table in the sun room of her house, a bright and airy room overlooking the gardens and her beloved koi pond. I gently rested my hands on Marjie and allowed energy to flow to wherever it was required. I watched winter turn to spring, birds rest at the feeders on their migrations, flowers bloom and fade, trees lose their leaves, the koi pond freeze over and then begin to thaw again. When I worked with her I sometimes imagined us together in a far off land; images of climbing trees with her, being children together, swimming in a river. Always, in these visions, she was strong and powerful and wise, leading me and teaching me.
During our session two weeks ago, I imagined that Marjie and I were on top of a mesa in Sedona, a place that held special meaning for her. We were surrounded by the red rocks and a clear blue sky that stretches on forever. We were holding hands and she let go and turned into a giant eagle, spread her wings and took flight, soaring over the valley below. At the end of the session she said “You have been a blessing to me. I hope I can be a blessing to you. I hope I can someday give you what you’ve given me”. I told her, as I have many times, that being with her has been a gift to me. I tell her how I treasure our time together. “I love you” she says and we hug and kiss goodbye.
That was the last time we talked. The next day she was in sudden and severe pain. She was hospitalized while tests were performed. She was in and out of consciousness as medications were adjusted to make her comfortable. Her body was declining rapidly. When I saw her last week, she was home again, in a hospital bed in the living room. Her speech was garbled and mostly unintelligible. Sam, her husband, said “Sometimes we can understand her, sometimes she just repeats words we say to her.” She was restless and would moan from time to time as though trying to get comfortable, trying to find some peace. I sat beside her and held her. “Hi Marjie, it’s Pam. I love you.” I said. She raised her head and opened her eyes briefly and whispered “Pam, I love you.” Was she simply repeating what I’d said? It didn’t really matter. I didn’t need to hear the words to feel the love and friendship we shared. I held her, and hummed soothing sounds, thanked her again and again for her presence, and wished her an easy journey. I noticed that I was beginning to rock a little as I held her, the way I rocked my restless babies when they were resisting sleep.
Marjie died last night. When I got the news this morning, I had one of the longest, deepest cries I’ve had in a long time; just allowing it all to flow like a river of sadness and longing. I am missing her, missing our connection, missing the time we shared each week. I asked Marjie to visit me some time, if she could, if it was possible. I told her I’d listen for her. That’s when I heard Marjie’s voice, clear as a bell inside my head. “It’s hard to be heard when you’re crying so loudly!” In an instant tears turned to laughter, and I felt the love flow into my heart. And with the love came the deep knowing that none of us is ever separate, from one another or from God.
This is Marjie’s gift to me. Thank you dear friend.