Mondays With Martha
A few years ago I had the opportunity to spend my Mondays with Martha.
Martha had been unresponsive for 3 years, the cause was unknown. She seemed to be unable to respond, move, or interact in any way. Her hands were stiff and unable to open or relax. Her legs were locked in a bent position.
If she was unable to respond and had been this way for 3 years, surely there was nothing I could do. To make things worse, I had to drive over an hour to her house where her 2 daughters cared for her.. I certainly didn't see why I needed to try to help when no one else had been able to.
What at first seemed like an impossible task, became a journey of great joy.
Martha's most immediate need seemed to be to communicate and get her hands and legs to relax. Her fingers were curled and stiff as wood. Her face was unresponsive. Her legs were stiff and unbendable. She had a feeding tube and her daughters fed her through this and cared for her with dedication and love. In their dedication they chose to continue to try to heal the condition that robbed their mother of life.
In the first session, I sat close to Martha and stroked her face, her arm, her hand. I had no idea where to start or what I could do, as a Hypnotherapist that the doctors were unable to do.
We played beautiful music, I put my head close to her and I took her on an imaginary walk down a beautiful path. My plan was to re-establish her connection with her senses and create movement in her hands and legs. I described a cold stream that had crystal clear water from the new, fresh, melting snow, and asked her to put her toes in the water and feel the icy coolness. We went to a sunny meadow and found little flowers and sat in the warmth of the sun and imagined making daisy chains out of the tiny flowers. I talked about two little girls who saw what she was doing and come over to learn the daisy chains. Together we felt the grasses, and the warmth of the sun, the breeze as it blew her hair. I described in great detail how her nimble fingers slid the flower into the stem of the other.
As I talked, I stroked her hands and fingers, saying relax and let go- your fingers open and relax, and I continued to describe the sensations in her body.
Her two daughters were in the room and after our session they told me that the stream and meadow and daisy chains were an actual memory from their childhood with their mother. The details I described on the journey were just as they remembered.
In the next sessions I asked her inner mind to create a connection with her fingers and to create an ideo-motor response (an involuntary movement of a finger) that indicates yes, and another finger to move to indicate no. And as I asked, her fingers would move. We could communicate! Her hands became relaxed and soft, her legs could bend.
In the weeks that followed she began to have expression when I came in the room. She would raise her eyebrows when she heard my voice, and yes, she smiled. Her progress was remarkable. We didn't expect much, and every little bit of progress was so very rewarding.
One day, I decided to sing. I asked her to sing with me and remember the music of her soul, her voice carrying the wonderful sounds that her soul has been longing share. No sounds were made at first and it just seemed that we could feel how much she wanted to sing. Soon she began to make sounds, soft, beautiful sounds - the aaaahs and oooohs that her willing mind learned to express as she healed. Amazing.
I am sure there were many that wanted to give up on her, pull her feeding tube, let her die since there was no hope.
But now, here in her room, after just a few months, Martha communicated. Her face had expression. She made sounds. Her muscle unfurled and her hands could move. The joy she brought to her daughters was beautiful.
Martha's daughters- at this time in their adult life, were dedicated to their mother. Their life had meaning, joy, and reward because they could care for Martha and love her.
I can remember my drive home every Monday after seeing Martha. It was a long drive, over an hour that I spent reflecting on how much Martha taught me and how deeply she touched me. Some days I cried because I was so touched to be a part of such beautiful devotion of family.
Martha taught me, touched me, and will always be with me. I reached her because I didn't know how not to. I did it because I could.
I am saddened that the courts can take away a Mother and Fathers right to care for their daughter. Terry Schiavo brings joy, meaning, purpose and love to that family, regardless of how unresponsive she seems. This situation has turned up our country's awareness of what is real, what is right, and where we place our priorities. If Terry wanted to die she would have left long ago.
If a court had ordered the feeding tube to be removed from Martha her daughters memories of her would be filled with anger and helplessness.
I remember Martha for what she taught me, and the purpose she brought to the lives of those who loved her.
Thank you Martha.
And to the parents and family of Terry, my heart goes with you.
Peace on Earth,