A couple of days ago, in the middle of a massage, memories of last year surged through my mind and body: The chilled hand towel that I am offered before each massage suddenly reminded me of the damp, cold towel that I’d brought to the hospital on the outskirts of D.C. one year ago today, to help revive and soothe OJ out of a post-operative stupor.
It was a day unlike any other: One year ago today OJ underwent a radical bilateral mastectomy. One year ago I spent hours waiting by the phone, wondering, hoping, wishing to be by her side. Finally my turn, I brought towel and arugula – to induce aromatherapeutic healing. That single surreal, mind-bending day segued slowly, mercifully, into the past year of recovery, more tests and follow-ups, a slow return to a normal life, albeit slightly changed.
I dedicated much of my day to OJ; from the moment I awoke and acknowledged all the things and people I am grateful for, including her survivorship and sisterhood; through the Kundalini yoga class I attended (and scrumptious, nutritious and wholesome lunch that followed) at the luscious Villa Gaia – mindful of OJ’s well-being and further recovery, knowing how much she would have benefitted from and reveled in the experience; honoring her strength and grace through a purposeful dip in the pool and the (not-a-pink) floral ribbon I created on the grass; to the serendipitous moment of discovering that the care package she mailed me had just arrived at the post office.
It was a day of sensing a deep connection to her spirit, to OJ, to my sister. Regardless of the geographic distance between us, she is always – in heart, soul, pain or joy – here with me. And I, with her.