How the healing power of a hug made everything OK
Last week, I was in Miami for my annual testing and screening.
It is always a very emotional time for me. I got to Mount Sinai Medical Centre and was engulfed by harsh memories. Yet, among my strong feelings of fear, anxiety and dread, deep in my personal darkness a diamond shone with rays of inner beauty that lit the shadows in my heart.
It came in the most simple form: I remembered a hug from the past.
When I walked into this modern, gleaming centre two-and-a-half years ago and arrived at the nurse’s station, I was crying hard. I was terrified of my upcoming chemo and I sat on the edge of the examining table under the bright lights of the office, shivering and sobbing as I waited for my doctor.
The door opened and a nurse walked in purposefully, then stopped. She looked at me with keen, focused attention. Through my tears, I saw her stride towards me in a white blur.
Then she paused, looking down into my upturned face with a kindness and compassion that flowed over me like balm. Her arms spread and she embraced me in a hug. She was a big person and I am petite. I folded into her arms and cried on her chest. She gently stroked my head as if I was her own wayward child, and after a moment she said: “We will do our best for you. We are here to help.”
She said it with such deep conviction and tenderness that I relaxed for the first time in hours. I felt as if the entire intent of the cancer centre staff was personified in her energy and it flowed right through me, chasing my demons out of some unseen door. I felt compassion course through me in a mighty river and I stopped crying and felt hope for the very first time.
All from the hug of a stranger.
Nurse Rebecca is an immigrant from Mexico, who built her life and career in a new country from the bottom up. She wears her sincerity with total ease because it is not something she strives for, it is a reflection of her very self. Through hard work and suffering she has achieved an inner balance that guides her work. You just feel better when she is with you.
She told me later that her son is married to a Russian girl, Tatiana, whom she loves and adores as if she is her own daughter. Tatiana came from the small town of Shelekhov in Siberia, which is only eight miles away from my home town of Irkutsk. I have been there often, and I smiled to think the world is smaller than we think.
When I met Rebecca again this time, two years later, she saw me from behind the nurses’ station and rushed out. We embraced like family. We could not stop laughing and asking each other questions. She was so deeply delighted to see me happy and healthy that for a moment we lit up the waiting room, and everyone stared and smiled.
I told her how grateful and appreciative I am. How incredibly important it was for me at that saddest moment in my life to feel her hug, her kindness, and desire to help.
She smiled and pointed at the badge that every employee of this centre wears: “I am here for you.” I thought: “Could it be that simple? We should all wear that badge and live by it every day!”
Compassion is a powerful element in treatment. In this age of modern medical marvels, remember that we are all on this planet for each other, to help those who are weaker. When you see a damaged and suffering person, or a deeply unhappy soul, reach out to them.
Kindness is the spring from which all healing flows.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at ninalondon.com