Dr. Wendy met me at her door. She had changed from her green doctor scrubs into a loose-fitting floral shift. She wore her hair uncovered, not tied back in a scrub cap as in the clinic. At this moment, seeing her silhouetted in her doorway, I realized that this woman was very beautiful. The insect chorus agreed, and hummed their eternal tropical song; while the bougainvillea, or one of the other tropical flowers, wafted sweet perfume to further immortalize the moment. She served me a simple meal of beans, sausage and rice. It was flavored with tropical spices to tease the palette. We ate outside on her patio. After the meal, she asked me about my back. I was surprised that out of all the doctors whom I had met throughout the last few days, she was the only one to inquire. What was more she seemed more interested and attentive to my symptoms than any of my doctors and chiropractors in the US. I wondered if this could be the same attention that she had shown to the little boy with the hurt finger the previous day? I asked myself if this was her secret?
“Maybe I can help.” She said.
She left me momentarily and returned with a towel for me lie on. I noticed that she was now wearing an unusual amulet hanging on a chain. I was about to ask her about it when she had me lie face down and the moment was lost. Then she knelt beside me and began to probe and rub with strong fingers. I was surprised at her strength, which surpassed that of my masseuse. As she worked she named each muscle, joint and bone. Her voice was low and gentle soothing me with its rhythm. This was bliss. She located my pain spots and, without my prompting, knew what to do. Occasionally I groaned, in happy surrender to the sweet pain of her fingers as they probed my body. She lingered and worked each sore ache until the pain dissolved. She located several places in my shoulders and neck which had not been giving me trouble; she gave them the same treatment. She had me roll over and gave my chest a similar work over. She even gave me a head massage working each point with unhurried hands and soothing sing-song voice.
When she had finished, she urged me to get up, and we sat side by side on the patio chairs. Together we gazed out over a field of fireflies to the Caribbean ocean beyond. The scene was moonlit with no human habitation or light to mar the sky-dome with its sparkling starry array. I felt fantastic and let myself drift gently into a place of bliss. When our mutual silence became notable, I pulled himself together and tried to thank her. She brushed me off,
“It’s what I do – I heal.” Her voice sound tired.
“You OK?” I asked.
“Yep, I’m OK, don’t get me wrong; it’s just that healing exhausts. I’ll be back to normal in a few minutes.”
We waited soothed by a gentle sea breeze. Then it was her turn to break our mutual silence,
“Of course, your back was tightened in pain, but I also reactivated your liver back to full function – now you should have no problem with your gluten and lactose intolerances. Your heart arrhythmia is now regular and oh yes, you had a kidney stone which is now dissolving!”
“I’m amazed! Are you sure about all this? If you are right it is a miracle. How can I ever thank you?’
“I don’t need thanks, this is what I do – I heal.”
“There must be something?” I dared not face her as I asked. I hoped that there might be some way that I could help this a woman who had already spell bound me. Some way that I could help and thereby get closer to her.
“Well, there is a way.” Dr. Wendy turned to face me “There is a way, Lisa needs help. She teaches seven-and-eight-year-olds in our mission school. You were to have dinner with her and her family tomorrow night. The problem is that we are short of teachers at our mission school and now Lisa’s mother in the US has been taken terminally ill and Lisa wants to visit her. You told me that you taught elementary school before you became a journalist. I was wondering if you could extend your stay a few days and fill in for Lisa?”
I was delighted; here was an excuse to stay. A way to extend my association with her. I told her that I’d call my boss and get a few days’ vacation, and, of course I’d help. I called Carl the next morning to report that the clinic was full of healing physicians and intimated that I could write a compelling piece about their collective achievements. I suggested that the clinic was photogenic and asked for a photographer. I told Carl about the school and requested a few days’ vacation to allow me to sub for week or so. To my relief, and astonishment, he acquiesced without argument.
The school was rewarding. I found that I enjoyed teaching more than I remembered. The school children were attentive and anxious to learn. The outside world intervened my pleasure when Carl’s photographer arrived. He took photographs of the tropical setting and images of the clinic with its clientele of sick Hondurans walking up the hill to its front door. He staged a portrait of the doctors standing in a row in the clinic central courtyard with the sun highlighting their heads. Dr. Wendy was notably absent. Just before the photographer left I persuaded her to pose for a photograph standing beside the road up to the clinic. It was a clever shot because it included a trail of Hondurans who appeared to be walking toward her. In addition, we took a “human interest’ photograph of the child whose life had been saved by my AB negative blood. After all the photographer remarked,
‘You came to investigate healing and your first action was to heal!”
“Now who is the reporter?” I responded, “let’s stick to facts. Could you explain to Carl that when I’ve wrapped up the loose ends I’ll write the piece.”
That evening Wendy and I were together again. By now some of my ailments were returning. I walked slowly to her home. She greeted me at her door from which the aroma of freshly baked bread wafted out onto the evening air.
“Are you hurting?” she asked.
“Well yes,” I admitted “just a little.”
“Don’t worry,” she responded “it happens quite often. The mind is a very powerful instrument.”
“What do you mean?”
“Simple! Western Medicine focuses on the physical. The doctors here focus on both physical and spiritual but there is a third ingredient.”
“The third ingredient is what I think of as the mind or intellect. Surely you have heard of body, mind and spirit? Think about it, Jefferson and Adams died on the same day, July 4th 1826, a day selected by each man’s intellect. Or, think about the many stories of married couples dying within weeks of each other.” Dr. Wendy sighed and touched me,
“And you, your mind conceives your ailments and pretty soon your body responds by proving you right. We need to prove your mind wrong! Lie down and I’ll give you another work over!”
I lay down and let Dr. Wendy work her magic. When she had finished, she brought out freshly baked bread and cheese. We ate sitting on her porch and gazing out at the tropical night. I felt at peace. I day-dreamed, for already I wanted to take this dear woman in my arms and propose. I wondered if she would be surprised; and worried that if she refused me I’d be obliged to give up this enjoyable intimacy.
During my second week at the clinic I realized that the mission was against the very idea that there might be an unusual healer in their midst. They staunchly maintained, what Jim’s wife had, so vehemently, told me on my first day on the mainland that they were all doctors and ALL healers. They administered to body and spirit. They went further and had Jim take me aside to advise me they felt that my presence in the hospital interviewing patients was disruptive. I was asked to desist. By now I knew that I had enough material to enable me to write a compelling story about their mission. One afternoon, after school was over I sat down, with an ice-cold drink of water at my side, and wrote a piece. I gave it the title, “Healers in Honduras”. I quoted some of their success stories, so many of which involved trauma not conceivable in the USA. They were stories about people beset by poverty and violence such as: a severely malnourished and dehydrated baby who had been fed on Yucca milk, or the poor woman who, while protecting her daughter from machete wielding intruder was almost decapitated.
When I finished the piece, I re-read it. Although I knew it to be well written and that Carl would like it I knew that I hadn’t been true to myself. Now that I was no longer distracted by my health issues I could afford to focus my mind on other aspects of self-criticism. I was disgusted at myself. I was ashamed that I should take the easy path and abandon the concept of an unusually gifted healer especially when I knew that if it were true my Dr. Wendy was that person. At the time, I didn’t analyze why I thought of her as ‘my Dr. Wendy’. I determined that I’d delay e-mailing the article until I’d done some additional research; even if it would have to be surreptitious.
The next day as I walked home from school I saw my opportunity. The hospital compound was fenced with a guard protected gate. Patients arrived at the gate, by bus, on bicycle, in the backs of dilapidated pick-ups, on donkeys, by foot and some by two-seater three-wheeled “taxi”. After scrutiny by the guards they were directed to walk up the hill to the hospital. Only those unable to walk were taken by vehicle. I took to quietly interviewing the patients as they walked the hill. I armed myself with an umbrella as a sun screen and held it over patients as I walked beside them up the hill. I showered each with friendly dialogue. Many gave personal testimonies relating to Dr. Wendy’s miraculous cures. Some had come a long way at great personal inconvenience merely to see her and to have her place her hands on their bodies. The believers were filled with wonder and gratefulness.
By now I was in perfect health and hopelessly in love with Dr. Wendy. I decided to risk everything and propose. After dinner on her porch I sank to my knees and began to stutter. Dr. Wendy held up her hand,
“Before you say what I think you are about to say I need to tell you two secrets. No, it’s OK I not a lesbian or secretly married or bearer of an incurable or hereditary disease. I would like to tell you one secret tonight, the second tomorrow and on the third night, if you are still here, you may ask your question.”
To be continued