The following is an excerpt from my book: A Personal Guide to Self-Healing, Cancer and Love. At the most basic level, this book is an energy healing guide for families who have been touched by cancer. It also teaches us to read between the lines when someone gets sick. Are there emotional or mental factors that play a part in this process? And how can we leverage Reiki, meditation and other self-healing techniques to make the whole family's experience a bit lighter.
At times it was as if I had come home to a stranger. Dad, at age 45, was acting erratically, camping out in pajamas and watching TV all day. I thought it was delayed grief over my grandfather’s death a few years earlier. The two of them never got along. Abuelo, Spanish for grandfather, had a difficult upbringing and he carried the scars with him through life. Growing up, Dad felt torn between forced loyalty to Abuelo and his love for the maternal grandfather who always reached out to him. That conflict was one of the reasons why my parents moved to California shortly after I was born. The last years of Abuelo’s life were full of drama, emotional tension and what soon became a feud between father and son. In retrospect, Dad would have benefited from counseling to deal with the emotional turmoil and to see Abuelo in a more forgiving light. Instead, Dad swept it under the rug. With this history bubbling under the surface, it was not surprising to see it play out as apathy, depression and frequent migraines.
Dad was increasingly hard to live with and eventually he decided to live part-time at my grandmother’s summerhouse nearby. He came and went between the two homes, much like he had commuted to Mexico City for the better part of five years. That December we spent Christmas Eve together at home and had planned a skiing holiday in Colorado. But Dad came down with the flu and we left without him. He promised to fly out when he felt better, but the days went by and he had no plans to join us. My mom was worried because he did not sound like himself. We felt disconnected and helpless, staying in a small ski lodge hundreds of miles away. My mom rang her best friend, Cristina, who we knew as La Teacher because she gave private cooking lessons in the area. She and her husband lived off the San Diego coast on beautiful Coronado Island.
Mom was reluctant to ask the favor as it meant a 40-minute drive from Coronado to La Jolla. Better safe than sorry. Cristina packed a sandwich and sent her husband, Guillermo, to check on Dad. He rang the doorbell and got no response. Guillermo cracked open a side window, removed the mosquito net and climbed through. Dad was on the second floor watching television. He heard the doorbell but did not think to answer it. Guillermo made small talk while my dad ate the sandwich. He seemed OK but the days went by and Dad still felt unwell. This time my dad’s older brother went to check on him. He decided to take him to the hospital. How my uncle managed to get him down the stairs we’ll never know! At six feet five and 220 pounds, my dad was a big guy. Luckily, so was my uncle. The thought of them stumbling to the car made us chuckle a few days later.