Same Care

Healing Lessons is the story
of how Andrea Winawer
dealt with her cancer.
It was written by her
physician husband, Sidney.
The book is equally
about his slow transition
from being a doctor specializing in cancer treatment
to being a caregiver of a loved one with cancer.
As her disease spread,
Andrea sought out alternative treatments,
ones her husband did not favor,
accustomed as he was to a medical intervention model.
Having always loved her husband’s rich voice,
Andrea asked him to read guided imageries aloud to her.
He did as she requested, he writes, “to humor her.”
As he continued his daily readings,
he realized how much this practice comforted her;
he could see it on her face.
Then he became aware of something else:
“I told myself for a while
I was doing it only for Andrea’s benefit.
Then I realized that I, too,
was feeling its effects.
I became calmer as I read to her
and we entered the new place [in the imagery].
I relaxed as I watched her relax.”

Isn’t it interesting how this happens?
We lead another through a guided imagery
and we are led to that same place ourselves.
We take the other for a walk outdoors,
believing that will help them,
and the next thing we know
we feel ourselves lifted and filled
by the sights and sounds all around us.
We think they will benefit from reminiscing
and when they’re done talking,
we sense we’ve benefited as much as they.
For their well-being we offer spoken prayers
and then we find ourselves comfortably cradled
by those very same heartfelt words.
Almost anything we do to help another—
if it’s done wisely, humbly, lovingly—
can circle around and help us, too,
without our ever intending that.
We share a piece of poetry,
a piece of scripture,
a piece of beauty,
a piece of ourselves,
and the support or encouragement we wanted to give them
comes gently, surely back to us
and we know ourselves to be
quite thoughtfully cared for.

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