Today I am on my way over to Vancouver to visit my son Kai who has been out of the hospital for about 3 weeks and is now back at school. At this point I think we can safely say that he is “healing”. I find it really interesting how we as a culture define healing. For the hospital it’s when you’re well enough to leave and go home. For work and family maybe it’s when you’re able to go back to your job, get back to your studies, or do your chores. What I have noticed for Kai and his family is that healing is really an ongoing process.
The day Kai was finally well enough to leave the hospital it felt very strange and vulnerable. There was no one there to congratulate him. The nursing staff were all off tending to folks far worse, or just arriving. We were not able to give our thanks for his care or mark this moment in any real tangible way. The attendants were standing by ready to prepare the room for the next patient.
We are so quick to move on in our society, and yet those few weeks in hospital were quite profound. They warranted some sort of recognition or reflection – a family bound together, a team of amazing caregivers dropping in at the press of a button.
Once home we were all reminded that healing doesn’t end the moment you walk out of the hospital, leave a toxic job or a failed relationship. Healing continues on, teaching us, moving through us, transforming us. After the immediate crisis there is time to feel, time for the body to heal from the physical and emotional trauma, in this case from illness, surgery, body memories, and of being afraid that it could all happen all over again when you least expect it. Those first few days every time Kai would feel an unfamiliar pain or sensation in his chest we all wondered if it meant he would be heading back to the emergency room.
I wish we had more of an appreciation for our healing process and didn’t expect from ourselves and others that we can just jump back into life. Healing takes time. Attending to it well can make life rich and meaningful. When we have a healing crisis I believe it is important to hold the lessons and experience close – to live and breath into the learning these experiences have offered us. Be tender with yourself and those around you – we are all healing from something.