The Gentle Voice

candle

A gentle voice softly spoke into his ear in the middle of the night: “Don’t worry, everything will be OK.”

He got up! Sat on his bed, looked around, who was this? He looked at his wife she was fast sleep. He heard the voice clearly, couldn’t tell if it was a male or a female voice. It was soothing to his soul and had an amazing calming effect. He could clearly remember the feeling of someone breathing next to his ear.  It was real! It really happened! He kept looking around longing to know who or what it was. He then fell asleep like a baby of 12 hours straight after 10 days of hell.

The next day his wife reflected to him that he was in such a deep sleep after many nights of turmoil and she did not have the heart to wake him up. She was delighted to see him peaceful. She inquired and he didn’t know how to explain what happened. Was that his imagination? Was it his longing of the soul? Was it an illusion? Did it really happen? He asked himself and decided to keep the experience to himself for the time being.

A few months earlier, he noticed a lump on the side of his neck near the lymph nodes. He thought to himself it was perhaps a fatty tissue underneath the skin. There was no pain, he dismissed it and then forgot about it. As a filmmaker, having his own production company, he lived a highly active life, full of deadlines and intense daily work. He really didn’t have much time for the little, insignificant lump. About six months later, he felt his throat was bothering him.  He shared that with his wife and she instantly made an appointment for him.  He met with their primary physician. He took a look, touched the area and immediately ordered a biopsy for the next day at the hospital by a surgeon.

He was hoping for a prescription of antibiotics and wanted to go back to work. He was editing a film and had a deadline.

The next day, the surgeon informed them that he had to go deep inside and that the results would be ready in a few days.  He went back to the editing room as usual. The next day, his wife called him at 5 pm; said she must talk to him immediately. “Can you tell me when I come home, I have a deadline.”  He asked. There was a few seconds of a deep silence, “ You have cancer!” She was trying to be strong.

His mind went blank for a few minutes. He wondered in his mind if he heard it correctly, cancer? A thought passed, “We didn’t have any history of cancer in the family. Could it be a mistake? Human error? False positive?” It couldn’t be, he thought to himself for he was an active athlete, jogging, swimming, and eating healthy. He was overwhelmed by the thoughts and feelings going through his mind. He didn’t know how long the silence went on.

“What should we do?” he finally asked.

“You should see the doctor right away!” his wife was firm.

He softly shared with me; “You know, there is no way to describe that feeling. A curious feeling, unless someone has experienced it, it is impossible to understand. It was the first time in my life I was facing death.”

“My throat was completely dry, my mind heated up, I had to get hold of myself.  The editor was waiting for me in the editing room to finish my phone conversation and finish the job to meet the deadline”.

“God, I don’t know what to do. I have two young kids. Give me strength to take care of my family.”

He asked his wife to pick him up, went to the editing room and quietly said, “We will finish tomorrow” and left the office. When they met the doctor for the urgent appointment, he was informed that the cancer has covered the whole neck area. He showed them the X-rays. “You have to go to Europe for treatment immediately,” the doctor said. Unaware of the depth of his health issue, he started to bargain. “ Sir, I have no time for Europe, I have two projects to finish now.”

The MD looked him straight in the eye and said, “This is a life threatening situation. You do not have time. You must go immediately. I will get your medical records ready.”

The couple left the doctor’s office and went to a coffee shop looking at one another in silence. “What do we do?”  It was their love for one another that gave them the energy and hopes to face the situation.

It was then for the couple the beginning of their worst life altering experience…

The day of their wedding, they remembered the priest reminding “I unite you in the sacrament of this wedding for the best and for the worst .” Until that day life was so gentle and the worst was now hovering their lives with uncertainties over the horizon.

The first thought was to protect their children from this trauma, at least for the time being. They went home.

The kids were doing their homework. He was trying to act as natural as possible. They put on an act, hugging and kissing the kids. This time the hug felt different. There was a deep feeling inside. He thought to himself “What a lucky man I am. What an amazing family I have.” It was hard to let go of the children, feeling the possibility of loss. He wondered “Wow much time do I have with them?” This was a first time experience for him.

The doctor gave them the name of an Institute in Europe that specialized in the treatment he needed. He informed them that this center is the second best center in Europe specialized in cancer research and there is a long waiting list. When they had called the Institute directly, they were informed that there was going to be a six-month waiting list for new patients. He did not have that time. The next day, his wife called her mother asking for help. She had a friend who knew a professor at the institute as a friend. The friend contacted the doctor while he was on vacation. He said he would do all he can.

They received a call from the Institute within 30 minutes that they will take him as a patient right away. “That was the first miracle!” He said with a smile.

As I was listening to him talk, I was hooked, all ears.

There was a chaos; a new agenda, ”Life & Death.”

Who was going to run his company in his absence? What would happen to the project he put his heart and soul into? The company had to go immediately to a lower level of functioning.

When he shared about his health issue at work, going to Europe for treatment, loving offers poured in from all kind of places. Persons who had only a few professional contacts with him offered to do anything needed to keep the company functioning.  He said he left feeling loved beyond imagination. It was an amazing experience. He was not aware of that much love around him. A new awareness was emerging about what is really important in life.

“My wife turned out to be my Guardian Angel. I would have never succeeded without her. She embraced the fire of hell.”

They kept the health issue away from their children.  The Universe supported that.

By strange circumstance, before going into this challenging scenario, his wife planned a 2-month educational camp for the children.  A plan made months earlier. Maybe her female instinct whispered to her to do so to help them to focus all their energy on the forthcoming challenge.

The medical files with all the X-rays, scans, lab results had already been sent to the Institute. On the flight to Europe, he was holding his wife’s hand wondering what life had in the store for him. He decided to share about “The Gentle Voice” experience with her unsure of her response. To his surprise, she said, “I heard exactly the same words too! Yes, I couldn’t tell if it was a male or female either, but I knew you were going to be OK.”

They smiled at one another knowing that he had the protection of an entity beyond his understanding.  It was such an amazing and comforting feeling.

They arrived at his cousin’s apartment. They were like brothers who grew up together.  He expressed how much he loved this cousin and had such warm memories together. Now, the circumstances were critical. He said it was during his treatment that he’d realized what an extraordinary soul his cousin is.

They went to the Institute for the first time. He was well aware that life as he knew was no longer. This was a new chapter with uncharted challenges in front of him.  The medical doctor, working with cancer patients for years, perhaps to some extent desensitized to the agony of a new patient said. “I am not a psychic or a fortune teller, no crystal balls. When I look at your file, I am telling you that it is going to be a difficult ride. We are going to give you the strongest and hardest chemotherapy we have.”

Protocol:

There is going to be 15 days of nonstop chemo, then a 10 day break, followed by a second round for 15-days. Then there will be a two week break, followed by 36 sessions of radio therapy.”

A voice came through him, “Doctor, I will do my best and you do yours,” the brave soul said firmly. The doctor seemed inspired by the positive attitude of this new patient. “It’s a deal!” he said. Then he put a paper in front of him and said, “If you wish to sign this.” The form was about the risks of certain products not tested before. It was experimental and patients must take responsibility for any unknown factors.

“Oh God, my case is bad! This is going to be a kick ass chemo. That is going to impact every organ in the body. He knew chemo was poison. He was wondering if his body could stand it. In the back of his mind, he reminded himself of the gentle voice as he heard the doctor saying “We are going to monitor your kidneys every 30 minutes. You are an athlete. We do hope your body withstands.”

He asked for a private room. He had seen the movie The Bucket List, wanted privacy facing the side effects of the chemo. The battle had begun. The chemo machine was his constant companion. He said every time he left the room for a short walk he felt a world of pain. He was a filmmaker, fascinated with images, now seeing horrific people with half of their faces gone.  He wondered if the gentle voice was with him. He needed protection, longing to hear from the voice again, giving him hope. The poison was going through his body. His loving wife stayed with him every day, all day and night, holding his hand tight.

The first day, he felt hungry and looked forward to his meal, something to enjoy. A couple of days later, he could not stand the smell of food. It was repulsive and it was the end of eating. He was happy if he could hold in some water with a bit of sugar. No food in 15 days! Time was going slowly. He was looking forward to the 10-day break.

They decided to go to her parent’s home outside of the city for the 10-day recovery.

On the ride home, he started vomiting violently. “What’s happening to me? I didn’t throw up in the hospital,” he thought to himself. He didn’t want his wife to see him like that.

He recalled that in the hospital, they gave him a medication to prevent vomiting. He said his mother in law was simply an angel who took care of him, hovering around him with a smile. He vomited for the whole week, feeling that his guts were coming out. His body was rejecting the poison.

When he went back for the second round of chemo, he knew exactly what to expect. Now the children were back from their holiday and it was time to tell them and bring them over. He had lost so much weight. He looked different. He was such a handsome man with beautiful brown eyes. He was famous in the family as having the looks of a movie star. Now the chemo hit his body like a severe thunderstorm.

He was sitting in a chair in his room in the hospital when the children arrived. What a defining moment, facing a brutal reality. He was longing to see them and hold them tight and never let go. Nobody cried. There was a feeling of deep love. The children were giving daddy energy for the fight of his life and it was the best medicine seeing them. It reminded him that the fight was worth it. The non-verbal was deep and powerful. No need for small talk. The loving bond of the family had become much stronger facing the deadly cancer. The loving energy filled the hospital room.

The second round started, another 15 days of straight chemo. There was good news. The bumps were gone. The chemo was working. The doctors were hopeful. The critical question: Did the cancer metastasize?

The 15 days of hell and nightmare passed. He was unable to eat and there was fear of his bone breaking. He was simply too weak to go for radiotherapy. There was a consultation. He must gain weight before the next treatment. He wasn’t sure if he could take it anymore. He wanted to go home and be away from the hospital and the horrifying images. The doctor agreed to let him go home for 3 weeks focusing on weight gain. His smile was pale.

He loved being home with his family. It was September, and it was important for them to be present for the kids going back to school. His wife, a skilled Chef prepared delicious meals with a great deal of love. Life had a different form in their household. Yet, the loving energy was flowing.

Back in Europe, he started 36 sessions of radiotherapy. They were using laser technology aiming precisely at his throat. He was wearing a metallic mask and was locked to a table to assure no movement. The exact point was bombarded with laser. His throat was completely dry, no saliva and a deep burning sensation inside and outside, his skin around the neck was like a piece of leather. He was not able to eat and could only drink water. There was high level of radioactivity in his system. He was taking 20 tablets daily including painkillers and high dosages of morphine.

His body was getting tired; thoughts of giving up were crossing his mind frequently.  It was like a marathon runner far away from the finish line feeling exhausted. He said he felt extremely tired, it felt like swimming in the middle of an endless ocean in the darkness looking for a lighthouse. He reminded himself of the Gentle Voice. He thought someone beyond is helping him. I know I heard the voice. It was real. Someone is with me; protecting me. He reassured himself. A smile came across his pale face.

Then the face of his maternal grandfather emerged in his mind. It seemed as the universe was reminding him of the unconditional love that manifested in his beloved grandfather. He closed his eyes and imagined his kind eyes, giving him a back rub with a kind smile as he did frequently when he was a small child. He could feel his loving touch on his skin as it was happening in the moment. He could feel his grandfather’s love.

His beautiful hair was falling with every touch. The brave soul called on his cousin “Would you shave my head please?” The cousin hesitated for a second and then his love took the hesitation away. They went to the bathroom and came out transformed beyond physical changes. “Yes, I am bald now.” They laughed and took photos. He said he discovered a new dimension of his cousin’s personality. What an amazing human being. It is in pain we learn about the essence of who we are.

During the treatment, his in laws had moved to their home taking care of the children. He simply wanted to go home. Immediately after the 36 sessions, he went back home with a follow up appointment.

The worse was yet to come but he did not know it at the time. An even tougher challenge was on the horizon.

He was on a high does of morphine to cope with the pain of the burning inside. At home, he slept for two weeks. He had become a vegetable; barely living. That was not who he was. He was a man with passion, loved his work and found meaning in his creation. He had to go back to the office. The medication was keeping him down. He was losing himself. One day he woke up and said to his wife “I am going to stop taking these pills today. I want to get on with my life.” He was not aware that his body had become dependent on morphine and stopping cold turkey would be extremely dangerous. He had been taking painkillers for over 6 months.

Then suddenly, the physical withdrawal hit him. He became highly anxious with frequent cold sweats, heart pounding, scared of everything, crying and shaking for 10 – 15 minutes. He was holding on to his wife. When the attack was over, he was plain scared wondering what happened to him. Within a few hours, a second similar attack started. This time his wife called the doctor and reported the severe attacks.  The doctor stated that the body had become dependent on morphine and he must decrease the dosage gradually. “I am not taking that shit!” He screamed.

From day one, his wife accompanied her husband without losing faith and determined to fight like a tiger refusing to let the cancer take her Love away from her. She saw him suffering with the first poison of the chemo, then with the burns from radiations, then with the morphine overdose, enough was enough, and she was even more determined to stop his agony.

Without following the doctor prescriptions, they both decided to reduce gradually but faster than prescribed by the doctor. Frightening side effects showed up straight away, but she hung on during a week, hugging him day and night to help him to sustain the panic attacks, hallucinations and convulsions he was going through.

After 10 days, the symptoms were gone and the brave soul recovered from severe dependency with the power of his mind, the support of the Gentle Voice and love of his family. “Now I know what it’s like when chemically dependent people go through withdrawal. It is a nightmare.”

When he felt better, he started reviewing the past few months of his life. He wondered what helped him and what images were in his mind.

A memory emerged, a week before he was diagnosed, he had a presentation for their most important client. He had done other similar projects for them. He was hopeful to get this project. They had made the presentation and the Executive Director loved the idea, approved the project and gave the green light to start the date of filming, expecting to start within a month.

A week later, when in Europe facing the threat of death, his wife sent an email to the Executive Director sharing about the health issue and suggested giving the project to someone else with an apology. The next day, he received a personal call from the Director stating that they will wait for him.  He said the loving gesture of the businessmen was heart warming and gave him the energy to make a decision that he was going to make this film no matter what!

Actually making this film ended up being his best therapy, even if it was sometimes difficult to stand on his feet. The project happened to be a blessing in disguise. Not only did it allow him to live his passion, but also it gave him a reason to be and stay alive! The good news is that the film received one of the highest international awards in the world!

Yes, he went back to work where he was able to nurture his passion. “Passion is a blessing of God, a candle through darkness.” He said: “Creation of something, anything is impacting life, leaving a foot print.”

“You have been in complete remission for seven years now. How do you see life after this encounter with cancer?” I asked.

“Life is short! Before, I assumed I had time. Now, I feel time takes notice of you, like a lover. Some take time as a commodity, Impact Time, Impact Life, make a dent in life. What is life? Each moment? Get involved! When you put your foot in the river of life, you will feel the coldness of water, the current, and your feet feel the stones in the bank of the river and the joyful feeling of water. If you don’t put your foot in the river, you will never know that experience, the price of not getting involved is destructive.

“I am the luckiest man on this planet and I know it. I love my wife and family. I cherish every moment of my life. I fell in love with images at a young age and I will create to my last breath.”

 

“Life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all”. Helen Keller

Happy Birthday to you…

Floating

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“The last thing I remember was the fantastic electrical thunder storm with lightening, and then I was floating.” My friend was sharing about his immediate memory of a car accident on August 8th , 1978 when he was 21 years old.

“How was that experience of floating?” I asked.

“It was peaceful, a warm feeling, no sensation, couldn’t see, hear; no feeling, suspended. No pain, no emotions, floating peacefully. That is the best I can describe it in words.”

“What do you remember from the accident?”

“Absolutely nothing.”

“Any memory of driving?”

“No, on that day I had taken my girlfriend, Barbara to her hometown for a doctor’s appointment. I played tennis with her father and we left in the evening.”

“So what happened?”

“I was told that while I was driving on a country road, there was a curve, a young driver in a Volkswagen came into our lane. Barbara said I tried to avoid being hit by him by turning to the right and he hit me. The dashboard fell on my lap and my head went through the windshield, breaking the glass.”

I felt this man was a walking miracle in front of me. He said the first thing he remembered when conscious was being extremely thirsty. He couldn’t see anything. He heard his sister and asked for water and she said she was sorry she could not give him anything to drink.

His body was severely impacted and perhaps his digestive system was not functional yet. He was on an IV. He asked his mother to take him to the ocean and soak him. He knew he would be well in the water. He was a beach boy having grown up near the ocean. He was a surfer and loved riding on ocean waves. He did not know where he was and did not know what happened. Everyday he was asking his father “Where am I? Why am I here?” Everyday, the father would explain to him and he could not remember.

He was told that there was swelling in the brain. On August 9th, 1978 the day after the accident, while his father was speaking to the attending physician at Palomar hospital, he got hold of the reel on the left side of the bed, being an athlete, unaware of his medical situation, he pulled his body up. The doctor immediately told the father to lay him down and force him to let go of the reel. Apparently, this action resulted in moving a blood clot to the right side of his brain and he became paralyzed in the left side of the body completely!

He was unable to move. His hip was crushed, his ankles were beat up, his right leg was severely hurt and now his left side was paralyzed. The medical team informed the parents that the scope of his needs are much greater than what they can provide in that hospital and suggested to take him to Scripps in San Diego.

He remembered the ambulance ride on September 15th 1978.

His father spoke to his Neurosurgeon and contacted the orthopedic surgeon.  When the doctor came to his room with a drill looking much like a construction drill, he paused. He watched him drill the bones along his left knee while feeling no sensation. He put a pin there, securing the leg on both sides to start traction and adding weight, to bring strength back to the left leg and hip.

The first time he was able to experience any movement was October 10th 1978. He was on his back since the accident. His eyes were full of blood and he was so eager to be able see again. There was a physical therapist, David at Scripps who was a NFL receiver. He challenged Rich to do pull ups in his bed. He put a couple of bars above his bed. Rich was a competitive guy by nature. He loved to compete with a positive attitude. In college, he attended San Diego State and tried out for the indoor volleyball team. He was a great swimmer and lifeguard assistant. David knew how to inspire Rich’s desire for getting well. He took him on a gurney outside to feel the sun on his skin. The sun’s ray had never felt that great before.

Everyone was amazed that he was released from the hospital by the end of October.

Water therapy was recommended for the rehabilitation. When he was taken to the pool for the first time, he said he felt like a three year old child being in the water scared to death with a fear of drowning. He didn’t remember that he swam like a fish in the ocean. The ocean was his home. Getting over his fear, he started swimming again which brought a big smile to his face and a sparkle to his eyes as he was sharing the story. He remembered how soothing the ocean was to his body and soul.

He loved to bike before and now he couldn’t risk the possibility of a fall. The hip movement was too challenging. He said he took the path of least resistance.  “I knew I was going to be able to get well. I was so lucky to be alive”.

“What helped you to keep a positive attitude through the whole recovery process?” I asked.

He smiled and shared that his parents, his brother and sister and Barbara came everyday and stayed with him. He recalled while he could not see, he could smell the skin of his father’s hand giving him yogurt. When he shared that his lifeguard friends came on Sundays, their day off, to work on his body, he got emotional with all the love he received from all of his friends.

“Barbara stayed with me all through the recovery.” He shared and I felt he knew about the love of his family, yet he was touched deeply by the love of his partner and his friends.

“Did you ever meet the other driver or wondered about the timing and meaning of this accident that changed your life forever?”

“I was told that the other driver was a young man and through the attorneys, it was said that he may have had  seizures. What are the chances for that? All I know is that I was lucky to survive. Barbara was bruised, yet capable of jumping out of the car to go the nearest home and calling for an ambulance. “She saved my life!” he said with a big smile.

“Some suggest that accidents are random events, while others suggest that there is a Divine Order and there is meaning in every event. What is your take on that?”

“I am not very good about talking about my feelings, which is something I am working on after two divorces. I went to channel 8 News and saw the super 8 tape they got of the accident more than 5 times. I had absolutely no memory. It was like watching the news. All I know is that I was going to be able to get well and could not wait to get back on the surf board.”

“Rich, this was a major trauma, any symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?”

“Yes, I was never in a Dodge van again. My vision was impacted, my depth perception during driving, night vision and fear of going off the bridge.”

“What was the most challenging part of recovery?”

“I had to learn everything all over again, how to walk, bike, throw a ball, swim and daily weight lift to build up strength.”

“As a human being, how were you different?  What changes occurred after the accident?”

“I became more responsible about life.  Before the accident, I was a beach boy. After, I took a math class and could not remember anything about math that I had learned before. I took Math 100 and started learning the basics and was able to get my B.A. in Accounting in 1983 and M.S. in Finance. The road to recovery was challenging. I got married to a friend of my sister. We got married and divorced after 6 months. I am not sure what happened. I remarried and have two great adult children, our daughter 24 is married and our son 21 years old. We got divorced. Now I live independently. I still work as an accountant, do taxes and work on my fitness. I do 3 sets of 25 push ups, cardio, swimming and Tai Chi. I dropped 55 lb in 8 months and lowered my cholesterol and am in good physical shape.”

“What happened to Barbara?”

“I wanted to marry her after the recovery and she said she wasn’t ready for marriage. We are still good friends. She got married, has three children, got divorced and I am still doing their taxes. She saved my life,” he said with a warm smile.

“You seem to be in a great shape, what is your secret?”

“If a man makes it, I don’t eat it.”

I met Rich in Tai Chi class and was inspired by his motivation and his friendly face and warm smile. When he shared briefly about his accident, I wondered where his inspiring view about life comes from. We met for few hours for him to share the story with me. The next day, we surprised him for his birthday and for the first time in Tai Chi class, we all song Happy Birthday to him and took a group photo.

Happy Birthday Rich!

My 22nd Birthday

Happy Birthday balloons

On Sunday July 27, 2014, I woke up at 6 a.m. looking forward to a whole day of celebration with family and friends. I have been doing a live radio program called “The Story of the Week” in Farsi on Sundays from 10-11 a.m. with a partner; a partner whom I had never met. Now, he and his wife had come to Orange County on holiday and we met in person for the first time.

On this day, in celebration of my birthday, we decided not to do a story which is the theme of our regular program but to dedicate the program to the “Celebration of Life,” honoring the Divine Feminine and World Peace. Several dear friends had agreed to be at our home at 9 a.m. sharing their various gifts for the live program. A dear friend, my mentor had offered to play his guitar and chant in Sanskrit sharing his healing energy. Another friend brought his flute nurturing the soul with his music.

We were planning to read poetry from Rumi, had a healer with us as a guest and a Master of Rumi’s teaching joining us by phone for the hour. Our daughter had agreed to recite a poem she wrote for me called “The Mother” at the age of 13.

We had invited about 30 dear friends to join us for brunch. My husband was preparing for the big day. I felt like a child going to Disneyland for the first time filled with so much joy and excitement. I was celebrating my 22 birthday for the 3rd time! It is amazing how young I feel inside. I am only reminded of my biological age when I am sure I can do something and the body does not agree with my intention. I have learned to honor the temple of my body.

The phone started ringing at 8 a.m., two of our children who came the night before were sleeping and I was being mindful not to wake them up. I felt deeply loved by the birthday cards, emails, e-cards and phone calls I had been receiving. I love celebrating birthdays. I think growing up, in spite of all the dysfunction, I have warm memories of my birthdays. I have a formal portrait photo on each birthday from age one, a priceless gift from my parents. My birthday was during summer and I was permitted to invite all my friends when I was a  teenager. Those days were some of the happiest times in my life.

When our children were growing up we went the distance for their birthdays. When they went to a birthday party of a friend it was usually at a designated place for a couple of hours. For them, we invited all their friends, had an all day pool party with BBQ and frequently a sleep over. One year, on our oldest son’s 12th birthday, we had about 14 boys spending the night after a whole day of activities. My dear friend said “you are a brave woman.” It was a lot of responsibility. I remember the boys played until late, a big, tall light was broken during a pillow fight and finally following an argument our son ended up sleeping in our bed.

You get the picture about my joy and passion about birthdays. On this day, I got dressed and came down and I was pleasantly surprised with the biggest birthday balloon I had ever seen! I wanted many photos with that beautiful balloon with all of my loved ones.

A dear friend of mine from Germany sent me a birthday video with the most lovely Persian birthday songs. I started dancing to the music. It reminded me of dancing with her in Germany when we met after forty years.

Our guests arrived at 9 a.m. ready to rehearse the music for the program. We used a cell phone for the live program and we tested the sound. Our son brought his African drum and a friend brought an Indian drum. This was the first time in my life to start a birthday gathering at such an early hour!

For our daughter it takes a little while to get started in the morning. I could see the love in her eyes willing to do whatever it takes to make the day memorable for her mother. The depth of her love touched the deepest corners of my soul. She made a life time photo album for me from age 2 to  present, the most loving gift ever.My husband was getting the coffee, tea and orange juice plus muffins served to the guests arriving. This was a new experience for all of us.

A few minutes before 10 a.m. we were at the round table with our agenda trying to keep calm from the excitement. I think this was without a doubt the most memorable live program we had done. My heart was filled with so much joy being with loved ones. I felt all of our friends from different corners of the world could have joined in the gathering and be with us in spirit via the internet.

The chanting was soothing to the soul. I looked around and everyone seemed peaceful with serene faces, smiling. Rumi’s words could express the deep feeling within me and the beautiful sound of flute took us to another dimension. After the program, the director of the radio in Boston for the first time stated that they would repeat the program at night.

After brunch, we celebrated with music, singing and I was touched by four of our bilingual friends to sing happy birthday in Spanish for me. My radio partner is a great drummer and inspired everyone to sing along with his live tempo.

We were planning to bring the festivities to an end around 4 pm so we could have some family time since our son was leaving for a TV project early the next day. I was on cloud nine with all the loving energy taking photos to capture every moment of this heartwarming celebration. The day was filled with heart warming events.

Around 4 p.m. I went outside to say goodbye to a few friends who were leaving and suddenly a car stopped in front of our home. I could not believe my eyes! It was my nephew who lives in Dubai. He was with his mother. I was shocked! He jumped out of the car and with a joyful voice said “Happy Birthday to you!” My heart was beating fast and I still couldn’t believe he was in front of me. I could not stop hugging them. This was a memorable birthday for sure. I told him right there “I am going to write this story!” Later, I learned that he had contacted our oldest son a month prior that he was coming and they kept the secret and made a lasting impression on my soul.  Our hugs went on for a long time. His mom had come from Iran for a visit, staying with her sister in LA. I had already invited her to our gathering and she said she could not make it. I had received so much love on that day, yet the effort my nephew had made to be there was a priceless gift.

“Mom, what would you like for dinner tonight?” our daughter asked me around 8 p.m. after our guests had left.

“I am still so excited, I don’t feel hungry at all,” I responded smilingly.