When I went to Miraval in 2014, I had a session with a Native American healer. I told him about Catherine and he changed my paradigm forever. He told me there were Tibetan monks who sat in caves completely still and silent while they meditated for the world and all of humanity. They had people who served their every need, he explained. Someone fed them, bathed them, and made sure they used the bathroom and got cleaned up afterward. The monks didn’t speak and simply sat in stillness while they meditated every waking moment of every day. He asked me, “What if you daughter is doing that and you and your husband care for her like people care for those monks?” Suddenly, her inability to do much physically looked like an extraordinary purpose rather than an unfortunate state of being. I haven’t thought about that in a long time.
Tuesday night, I took Catherine with me to a meditation workshop – honestly because I wanted to go and I wasn’t sure what else she could do. I figured she’d just sit with me. We arrived a little late though fortunately the meditation hadn’t yet started. I felt disruptive as I pulled Catherine’s arms out of her jacket, never previously aware of how much rustling noise that made. Then, I had to turn off her feeding pump so it wouldn’t go off in the middle of the meditation. Beep! Everyone stared as it screeched when I turned it off. Quickly I responded, “I promise she’ll be totally quiet as soon as I get all this done. I’m so sorry.” Folks just stared. No one said, “It’s OK” to try to comfort me. The instructor seemed to be in a very zen state of “it is what it is.” As for everyone else – I have rarely felt so self-conscious. For a brief moment, I thought about leaving. Fortunately, I decided to stay.
Our guide asked us to share our name and share a word with the group that came to mind. She talked about how everyone who had showed up for the session mattered. I nearly burst into tears. I flashed back to Miraval and what the Shaman had told me about Catherine. I thought I’d use the word “matters” for Catherine, and then, our guide talked about how each of us present in the room was there because of a miracle. She had just witnessed a birth at home and was in awe of the miracle of birth. She inquisitively pondered, “What do you think would happen if we thought of every single person we meet as a miracle?” She asked us to think about that in terms of our boss, people who irritated us, people we’d fought with recently, the slow clerk in the store, the person in the car in front of us on their phone rather than accelerating when the light turned green. “Could we see everyone we encountered as a miracle?”
Immediately, I changed my mind for the word I’d share for Catherine. “This is my daughter, Catherine. Her word is miracle,” I proudly proclaimed to the group.
We went around the circle and the instructor eventually began guiding us through the meditation. Initially, I was unsure what would happen. Sarah had even asked me, “What if she hiccups, Mom?” I figured that would be like someone else sneezing. I wasn’t worried too much. The noise and disruptive entrance had bothered me a lot. As soon as I thought of Catherine as exactly what she is – a miracle – all that disappeared and I enjoyed the experience of meditating together.
She stayed awake. She kept her head turned to the right – her sign that she is responding, listening and engaged with whatever is going on around her. She even vocalized several times, and I didn’t mind one bit. Hey, it was more reasonable than the cell phone that went off as the instructor was guiding us to imagine we could exhale out our backs. I think Catherine liked the still energy that overcame the group and perhaps was trying to tell me so.
So, on this, her twelfth birthday, I think about my little miracle girl and wish her the happiest of days – especially if she’s meditating for all of humanity. And just in case she is meditating for you, choose today to see someone, perhaps everyone, as a miracle like she is and let that be your gift to her today.
Catherine, if you really are meditating for all of us, well then, I want to thank you.
Happy 12th Birthday Catherine! I love you.