The Infinite Moment
The Infinite Moment
by Rosanne Botto
We’ve all had the experience of having unpleasant events occur in our lives. Many of us have become so engrossed in that story line that is so strong, so rich, so juicy, that we can’t seem to shake it. When we speak about it; when we indulge the story with thoughts, the present moment seems to vanish and we relive the event as though it were occurring right now. Perhaps, something as innocuous as describing the heavy traffic situation to someone you were late meeting. Your body experiences the stress of being stuck in traffic each time you recall the story. Perhaps the story line is much more sticky; has more Shenpa (as Pema Chodron calls it). We get so caught up in the story line that, as we recall the event, the present moment seems to ‘disappear’. Our eyes can be wide open, yet we don’t even see the surroundings. Our thoughts take us right back to the event itself and we relive it all… perhaps changing the details of what was said or done to what we could have said or done.I have a rich story of my previous marriage. It started with attraction. It grew into love. It ended in frustration. The story line was one that I lived and relived in my mind. When my ex and I made the conscious decision to end our marriage, we decided to continue our friendship. It was far from easy, as we both knew each other’s buttons and exactly how to push them. We both shared this story line.In time, we were successful at rebuilding our friendship. They say time heals all wounds. I think, working with intention to heal, heals all wounds. Working through our attachment to the story line, time allows us to let go. In the letting go, we heal.
Wayne and I stayed friends. We both learned to let go of the story line and move forward. I introduced him to his next wife. They danced at my next marriage to Luc. Being in 2 different cities, we nurtured our friendship through long telephone conversations. Conversations were often birthday greetings, catching up on current events, advice, news. Occasionally, we’d be in the same city at the same time and would have wonderful conversations together, in person.
I received a phone call from Wayne in May 2013. He was calling me to advise that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and didn’t expect to survive this illness. This news rocked my world. I visited them and had many conversations through the following months.
In his final days, Wayne had called me to tell me he wouldn’t be getting out of the hospital this time. I asked him if I could come to see him. His answer had me reeling again. He said he didn’t think I’d make it in time. Raw emotion had me bumping into walls, trying to figure out how move an entire country out of the way. Luc moved mountains for me. I was packed and on an airplane within hours, arriving to see him: skinny, yellow, frail, sleeping. I stood at his bedside and held his warm, waxy hand while he slept. I remember feeling glad that he was sleeping peacefully, not knowing how I’d be able to be strong for him. I’d surely be better at it in the days to follow.
But he opened his eyes, looked at me and was so grateful that I made the journey. He hugged me and asked how long I’d be in town. I said I’d be there as long as I was needed. He didn’t want me to have to watch him deteriorate, and suggested maybe I could come a couple more times and we’d say goodbye each time, as it might be the last (he managed to choke back tears, as did I). He told me that he loves me; that doesn’t just go away. I told him I love him too.
He was scheduled for a procedure that may offer some relief, although nothing known in the medical world could cure him. The next day, I arrived to see him again. As I hurriedly approached his room, I stopped dead in my tracks seeing Wayne, more yellow than the day before, hooked up to IV tubes, machinery beeping and flickering readings to informed staff, several friends seated around the room, Alice (Wayne’s wife) seated at his side, and a doctor standing in front of the two of them, explaining that the procedure had failed to provide the relief they were hoping for.
Alice smiled at me, and waived me in.
The doctor was in the process of explaining that Wayne had 3 – 5 days left; that they’d keep him comfortable with medication. When the meds became too strong, he’d begin to hallucinate. They’d further medicate him to keep him from hallucinating, and that he’d mostly be asleep. And that, his body would eventually give in and he wouldn’t wake up.
At that moment, Wayne looked over at me to see who just walked in. As our eyes met, he smiled at me. I felt my facial expression melting from the look of horror at seeing my dear friend in this story, receiving such terrible news (with as much calm, compassionate detachment as doctors must cultivate for self preservation in such dire circumstances). At that moment when our eyes met, I smiled back at him, hiding my fear, which made him smile more deeply; eyes twinkling a familiar spark. But then, something amazing and beautiful happened. I felt my fears dissolve. In that moment, the room disappeared. The people in the room faded. The doctor, who was still describing the end, receded. The tubes, needles, beeping machinery vanished. The yellow waxy skin evaporated. In that moment, there was no story line at all. In that moment, the Power of Love was all that was. Love filled the room, from Alice, the visitors, the doctor, friends from near and far, strangers, plants, trees, sun, moon, stars, distant galaxies. The infinite moment, when all the story we attach to ceased to exist, and all that truly was… was Love.
I will cherish that moment for the rest of my life.
In the heart of sorrow there is a seed of joy.
~ Hazrat Inayat Khan