Totems and Rituals

Most of us possess an object or thing that we consider lucky. Perhaps it’s a piece of jewellery or an item of clothing. Perhaps it’s something less tangible like a number or symbol. Maybe you have a special ritual that you enact before important events, to bring you luck and keep your loved ones safe. Throughout the long months of Gavin’s treatment, certain objects travelled with us and became indispensable as they seemed to take on the power necessary to see us through the darkest days. And certain rituals became deeply laden with meaning.

I did not actively choose the objects that became my good-luck charms, they came to me. My mother gave me the gold wedding band that had graced her finger for most of the years of her marriage. I put it on my right hand and will never take it off. Just before Gavin went in for his first round of high-dose, I found, amongst my jewellery, a small good-luck charm called a figa that had been the gift of an acquaintance in high school. The figa is popular in Brazil, and is in the shape of a small, clenched fist, with the thumb tucked under the first finger.  I have always liked its symbolism. It says, I will not back down without a fight. It also says, You can’t see everything that is hidden here. I put it on the gold chain that my parents gave me for my seventeenth birthday and hung it around my neck. I decided that I wouldn’t remove it until Gavin came home for good, and I didn’t.

We have received many small, special items as gifts, and I kept these around Gavin’s hospital bed to broadcast the power of the love with which they were given. Two of my mama friends from our neighbourhood gave me strings of malachite beads for healing. One was taped onto the sheet next to Gavin’s head during the last months of his treatment, and one was kept in my pocket. During the darkest days, as I sat at his bedside, I ran the beads through my fingers, saying one healing wish for each bead, over and over.

Those who have been following Gavin’s story know how important his Monkey and blanket Minnow are. Although his original Monkey was lost, replacement Monkey continues to travel with him into every surgery and procedure, along with Minnow. I wonder how many adults would come out of operations better if they were shielded by the protective power of a Minnow?

During Gavin’s first surgery, I wandered aimlessly, trying to still the sick, heartbroken painful waves that washed through me. I went into the meditation room next door to the surgical waiting room and knelt on the floor, focusing my eyes on the stained-glass window inside and my energy on the OR. I prayed from the most selfless place I could find. There have been many, many, surgeries and procedures since then. During every one, I have gone back to the meditation room and spent some time in quiet thought, willing all to be well, praying for my son’s safety and well-being. At no time has anyone else every been in the room, that space seems reserved for me when I need it. This is a ritual that cannot be broken, I feel compelled to do it and I feel better having done it.

Tomorrow morning we will be at the hospital at 7:00 am for Gavin to head into MRI. I expect the scan will be finished at about midday. He will go into the scan with Monkey and Minnow for company, and I will be loitering with a string of malachite beads in my pocket, sending all the light within me to my Bean.

One response to “Totems and Rituals”

  1. Melanie

    It is past midnight and I’m reading this and you know I’m there with you all the way my lovelies, I’m sending a healing prayer for Gavin – I love you all.
    Aunt Melanie xoxox

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