For 91 years she had been a daughter, a wife, or a mother. No one wanted her to go out like this. Her massive hemorrhagic stroke had sent her into a deep coma. She was being treated well in a Catholic hospital in Washington State that specializes in heart and stroke conditions.
As Mother lay unresponsive, four of us in the family took turns sitting with her. Once I took her hand and talked slowly. It was up to her and her relationship with her Maker, I said over and over. Some minutes passed and one of her eyelids twitched. I ran to inform a nurse.
The next day Mother’s comatose condition was slightly improved. Her legs had begun to twitch.
During my next turn, after I saw a dark shadow pass over her right eye and temple, I did my version of healing touch by hovering my hands over her head and being open to energy coming and going. But I was concerned that I might do some harm. I wasn’t trained thoroughly and wanted a practitioner who knew what she was doing.
When I asked whether there was anyone available who did healing or therapeutic touch, the answer was yes. Gwen was a motherly looking woman who didn’t want to be called “Sister Gwen.” She asked me how I had heard about healing touch. I explained I had taken a mini-course in it years ago at my Friends meeting. With decades of experience meditating in unprogrammed meetings for worship, I had found it easy to learn the basic principles of healing touch. I had tried it on my young son. I knew it was powerful.
So it was with relief that I watched Gwen walk toward Mother’s bed and heard her inviting me to stand nearby. I centered myself. With arms outstretched and palms raised up, I watched reverently as Gwen used her knowledge, training, experience, and her relationship with life energy (which the Chinese traditionally call qi).
While standing beside Mother’s bed, Gwen lifted both arms, and with hands close together, began long flowing arm movements that traveled slowly and efficiently at various heights over all parts of Mother’s body. At times she laid her hands upon Mother’s head, arms, and hands. Gwen said because of Mom’s position (slightly sideways on the bed), she was finding it hard to get deep. She finished each pattern by swishing her hands downwards from above Mother’s head towards open space next to the bed and shaking her fingers and wrists once or twice, like people do when their hands are wet and there is nothing to dry them with.
Thanking Gwen sincerely, I took her warm hands in appreciation and asked if she would come the next day. She said she would.
That afternoon Mother’s legs stopped twitching. The next morning she was more alert. All her vital signs were normal.
Gwen came again, accompanied by a female colleague, Sister Maria. We stood next to Gwen with arms lifted towards practitioner and patient. Gwen had taken off her suit jacket and as she moved around, I could feel the heat emanating through her white blouse into the dense air around us. Perspiration dotted her forehead and cheeks.
This time the pattern was different. Gwen focused on certain parts of Mother’s body. Her arms flowed purposefully. At the end of a pattern, again she flicked her wrists quickly through the air. She had received something she wanted to get rid of.
Later Gwen explained that the first time she was trying for deep healing; the second time she was rebalancing the energy centers.
That afternoon Mother was even more alert, and the next day she was slightly better. I was sitting bedside when we received a call telling us that a bed had been found in a nursing home nearby.
But before she was discharged, the healing practitioners would do one more session. I was invited to stand with Maria and “Hold Up The Light.” Again a dense and purpose-filled energy dominated the space. The healer’s arms and hands moved together in flowing motions over the patient from high to low, low to high. Again with a deft flip of her wrists, she shook off whatever had been accumulated. At treatment’s end, I said thank you and goodbye to Gwen and Maria.
Soon Mother was transferred to an ambulance and our vigil moved from hospital to nursing home.
The next day Mother’s open eyes recognized us. Gone was the dull, opaque vastness. Some part of her was back and available to us. When I put my cold hand against her cheek in greeting, she cringed from it. Animation. Now we were talking not of dying, but of adaptive living. We would have her for another one and a half years.