by Francisco G. Gómez
Recently I received a call from a friend informing me that my childhood sweetheart was dying from cancer. This was of no surprise to me because she was always sickly as a child. It took me back many years when I worked part time as an orderly in the Radiology department of the general hospital in the town I grew up in while attempting to get through High School.
I was only 16 years old when Melinda (name has been changed) was rushed to the emergency room with some unknown malady. After she was treated by one of the doctors and some x-rays were ordered, I learned from one of the Radiologists that was also a friend that she was suffering from something that had not yet entered a stage of metastasis.
It was about that time that Melinda decided to really find God; it was also in that period that we started to disconnect. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for either one of us because we were rather young and our paths were diverging rapidly. We were both headed to college soon; she to find Jesus and I to struggle through another four years of school.
I was soon drafted by Uncle Sam in my first year at the university and was bound for some hell hole on the other side of what I knew to be a sane reality. It was just as well because Melinda became a Bible thumping fundamentalist of sorts, and by the time I had finished my military service, I didn’t know if I really believed in God anymore. Oddly enough, it appeared that both Melinda and I held onto something much larger than the both of us and that something would see us through the next forty plus years, although not together.
James Taylor has always played over and over in my head throughout the years, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again.” We had no contact while I was half way around the world. I didn’t want to because I really believed that I would never see her again, even though I always wondered if she had conquered her affliction for good. You know what, I did see her a few times after I regained my sanity. Each time I did, it seemed that her faith was extending her life even longer. At least I believed it was. I was happy, thankful and somewhat amazed. I knew how important it was to hang on to my memories of innocence so that I wouldn’t lose my tether or mind while I struggled to survive my visit in hell. I didn’t want to transform into one of those survivors that emerged from the death camps in Europe after their physical holocaust had ended, somehow their ordeal leaving them without faith and still questioning why God had permitted such an injustice. I thought to myself how much Melinda and I had held on to an invisible belief, she in God and I as a part of the same.
Melinda married after college and bore three children; then she picked up and moved to the Caribbean. There she crafted a wonderful life in God’s mountains, and it appeared to me that all was just fine and dandy. It so happened that back in the 90s I would also move to the same island and the very town she lived in. Believe me, this was only by chance, but that’s another long story that I don’t want to get into here.
One of two times that I was able to meet with her while I lived on the island, I found her to be rather content and well. It appeared that her faith in God was truly doing it for her. However true this may have seemed to me at the time, I did detect that her fundamentalism had become somewhat fanatical, but in a very nonchalant sort of way. This was very unsettling for me. But I didn’t pry or question this uneasy calm. After all, I had no intention of making our encounter about me.
That was the last time I saw her in the flesh. It’s funny though how much I’ve dreamt of her in the last few months. Fast forward to the present and last week. I was debating if I should call her and ask how she was doing. Finally, I did call and found out, much to my dismay, that she is losing her battle with cancer. I wondered what it was in her that had prolonged her life over so many years and why now the disease was winning!
I learned that her apparent perfect life had come to an abrupt end. She lost her husband to a much younger woman, and she was dealing with some children problems that were somewhat challenging. I decided to play the good intentioned therapist in order to philosophize and alleviate her suffering. I don’t believe I succeeded or even had to. You know what she is still hanging on to as she is wasting away, can you even imagine?
After all the natural remedies, including guanábana, Melinda gave into a protocol of chemo. She told me her pain is unbearable. I wanted to ask her about her faith, but couldn’t. Just before she hung up she told me that it was her belief in God that was still keeping her alive…can you beat that!
I’m not trying to sell you an excerpt from one of my many incomplete upcoming novels. I am also not attempting to play analyst and therapist. Moreover, I’m not pushing God here. I really don’t give a rat’s ass if you believe in creationism, evolution, agnosticism, atheism or any of the other isms out there. The motive for having told you about this particular episode in my life is because I get many e-mails asking me about this herb or that herb, this remedy or that remedy. But, the question that always leaves me as pensive as I can get and tongue in cheek is, “Will I get better with these herbs?” I always answer, “Do you want to get better?” Of course, I don’t have to tell you what the answer always is!
Everything begins and ends with belief, and again, it doesn’t matter whether you are a creationist, evolutionist or atheist. Just as Melinda may have found that the single most truth in her life is God, it seems it is just that which has kept her alive for all these years. Perhaps it is at this point in time that her faith has been tested in a way that won’t let her belief continue to heal her. We will never know the answer to that; however, the next time you put some herbs into your body, ask yourself if your faith will let them heal you. Or you can decide to pass on the herbs and let the faith and belief in Nature heal you from without until she works her miracles from within; but just as Melinda is being tested, I’m sure you are too. I know I am every single day of my life….BELIEVE!