August 10, 1999
Sorry there was no update last week. Timmi had a week's break from chemo last week because her blood counts were too low. Yesterday she resumed, and things are going as well as can be expected. She has now been to three treatments of Reiki (a kind of energy healing) and has found it wonderful, both from the physical and the emotional points of view. This Friday she, Shari and I will (God willing) begin to learn how to do it ourselves (one can do it, once learned, to oneself or to others and even from a distance, it is claimed). That will be very good during the transplant. Timmi has already successfully taken away a case of nausea for Aimee, but she already had certain hands-on healing powers. Only, she could never get it to work on herself...
Other than that, things just go on. I myself am starting to lose it a bit from the strain, so next week Don will give me a break and take over the hospital visits several times. That will be very good!
August 17, 2004
What does it mean, to be healed? It’s not the same thing as being cured. As a religious person, I believe strongly that true healing must touch the spirit – a human being’s essence. We all know that the spirit can heal even when the body is sick or shattered. We’ve all known, or heard inspiring stories of, people broken in body but whole in heart and soul. Was Timmi one of them? Her body was not cured, but might she have been healed in the deeper sense?
Timmi was a natural healer, a vessel for a life-affirming energy that would pass through her to others when she laid hands on them. Her older sister Shari continues to this day to practice the Reiki the three of us learned together. Aimee and our son Danny (then 11 and 10 years old) also took a Reiki course for children. Danny even went on to Level 2, which includes healing from a distance, and still occasionally lays hands on his schoolmates when they fall down or don’t feel well. But Timmi’s relationship with this kind of healing was the deepest, perhaps because she was the most in need of it. I believe that in laying hands on others, she was in some way also healing herself.
Timmi loved being able to ease others’ pain or discomfort. She had a light touch that streamed calm and warmth into the person on whom she was laying hands. Even when her own energy was depleted, she would sometimes let the healing energy stream through her into others. Once, during a hospitalization for treatment (I believe it was the hospitalization for her second bone marrow transplant), T – a hospital volunteer with whom she had a special relationship – came to visit her feeling nervous and upset about something that was happening in her life at that time. Timmi got out of her bed and made T lie down in it. She then stood by the bedside and gave T a Reiki treatment. T fell asleep almost instantly and woke up a short time later feeling much better, saying she hadn’t had such a refreshing and relaxing rest in a very long time. Timmi later told me that the healing energy that had passed through her body into T had made her feel much better also – physically as well as spiritually.
Timmi’s Reiki didn’t work as well for herself as it did for other people. It would sometimes help her lie still and rest – even sleep some – during long sleepless nights. Sometimes, it took the edge off her pain. As things got worse for her, it stopped having any real physical effect. But that, it seems, was not the end of the story.
Timmi’s Reiki teacher once told me that she had gotten a strong message from the spiritual world that Timmi would eventually become a spiritual teacher and healer. As a Jew with a rational approach to my religion, I didn’t know what to think about this. I believe enough in the existence of energetic forces that we can’t see or measure to have taken the Reiki course, to practice it and to be treated with it. But to communicate with them? And after Timmi’s death, my skepticism seemed confirmed. Clearly, she could no longer become a teacher, healer or any of the so many other things she could have been.
A year and a half later, I was in synagogue on Shavuot (a Jewish holiday seven weeks after Passover). When the time came for Yizkor, the prayer for remembering the departed, I began crying uncontrollably as I almost always did – and often still do – at that point in the holiday services. (Synagogue was almost the only place where I was capable of crying for Timmi.) My weeping lasted well past Yizkor into the next part of the service. When I finally had run out of tears, A – a friend who was sitting next to me, who herself practices Reiki and other forms of energy healing – came closer. She said, “You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I’ve just seen Timmi, and she has a message for you. She told me to let you know that she’s fine now. She wants to help you. She is now where she should be, but that shouldn’t come at the price of your constant suffering – she said your perpetual anguish was disturbing the harmonious order of things.” She went on to tell me how Timmi looked in her vision.
Before that moment, I would never have thought that I would believe such a thing. But as soon as I heard it, something inside me responded as to a deep truth. And that message was the turning point in my own healing process. For a year and a half, I had been almost completely numb, incapable of feeling either the pain of Timmi’s death or deep happiness of any kind. I floated through time, wondering if I would ever again experience true emotion. Then, when A gave me Timmi's message, the fog lifted. I began going places in psychotherapy that I hadn’t been able even to approach before then. I also started feeling Timmi’s presence, usually in synagogue. I remember feeling her very strongly at the Bat Mitzva of the younger sister of Tami, a girl she had counseled in Scouts. When Tami read from the Torah as part of the women's reading in honor of her sister, I remembered how much Timmi had loved reading and how beautifully she had read from the Torah - and I felt she was there with Tami and me. Another Shabbat, at the very end of Adon Olam ("Lord of the World," the song with which we end the Saturday morning service), I felt her presence when we sang “And if my spirit should leave me, the Lord is mine and I will not fear.”
I no longer sense Timmi’s presence directly, which makes me very sad. I don’t even see her in my dreams, though I long to – even if it would mean waking up to her absence from the "real" world. But the ability to feel deeply that she restored to me has remained, together with the more rational sense of what she left behind for me and for our family just by virtue of our having lived with her for those eighteen years. And other people continue to feel her presence. Both A and Timmi’s Reiki teacher have told me that sometimes, when they lay hands on people who have come to them for treatment, they feel that Timmi is there with them, helping them heal others - just as she helped me start on my own road to healing (which still stretches a long way ahead of me). Many people who knew her have also told me that what they learned from her during her lifetime continues to guide them in a very profound way, and in that way she remains present in their lives as well.
I can’t answer the question whether Timmi’s spirit was healed while she was still with us in this world. But it seems that perhaps she has become a healer after all, and a spiritual teacher as well, in the next.