The following is an excerpt from ‘A Sky Of Infinite Blue‘ (September 6, She Writes Press), Buddhist and Medium Kyomi O’Connor’s debut memoir about her spiritual journey after losing her husband to cancer. Kyomi was lost to grief and trying to cope after losing her husband to metastatic melanoma – until she began to write.
Kyomi and her husband had built a life of spiritual bliss together – Kyomi had met Patrick at a time when her family life was darkest, and together they switched careers, moved to San Diego, and dedicated themselves to their Buddhist practice. Then, after a fierce three year battle, Patrick passed away from metastatic melanoma. Faced with an overwhelming loss, Kyomi began to write. In doing so, she uncovered unhealed wounds, which only continued to come out from the shadows as she furthered her practice. Part memoir, part spiritual meditation, Kyomi shares how, even after losing her husband, she still carries the love and light that had existed within her all along.
Spiritual Practice and Meditation III – In My Own Health Crisis
One day in early November, Patrick was again hospitalized after another crisis related to his recurrent septic aftereffects. Since the onset of his illness, he’d been in and out of hospitals.
While he was in the ICU yet again, I went to my ob-gyn clinic at Patrick’s former hospital, Hope Memorial—still my primary healthcare provider—because I felt like I might be developing a urinary tract infection.
The doctor performed a regular exam and ordered a urine test. A few days later, a triage nurse called me to tell me they’d detected a urinary infection, but she asked me to come back to the office instead of simply prescribing the antibiotics over the phone.
At the ob-gyn clinic, the nurse guided me to a counseling room. As I walked in, she passed me a paper: my urology test results. I was stunned. There in front of me was a list of countless bacteria, each described as resistant to multiple antibiotics.
My body muscles froze, then suddenly lost their tone. I felt like I was being disintegrated or liquidated. The bacteria that had caused my UTI were a combination of multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains of bacteria; none of the available antibiotics would kill them.
What’s going to happen to me? Was I going to die from this UTI?
How could I be infected like this? I was sure I must have acquired the bacteria at the hospital. I couldn’t think straight.
“Just to let you know, you need a special antibiotic and a special procedure for this,” the triage nurse told me.
I nodded numbly. “Yes,” I said. “I’ll go to the ER at Panorama Hospital; my husband was recently hospitalized at the ICU there, I’m sure they’ll know what to do.”
I thanked her and left my spirit right there in her office. Then, like a zombie, I headed to the ER at Panorama.
At the ER, I showed my urine test results to a doctor and requested that they administer whatever antibiotics were available to treat the infection.
“Unfortunately, you’ll have to be hospitalized for this treatment for at least five days,” the ER doctor said assertively.
“No, no. I can’t do that! I can’t be hospitalized!” I explained Patrick’s situation and begged him for other options.
“The only antibiotic available for your infection needs to be administered through an IV,” he said apologetically. “You need to be an inpatient at the hospital.”
“What if I came to the ER every day to receive the antibiotic?” I pressed, desperate for alternatives.
“Hmmm, theoretically that’s possible, yes,” he said. “But the procedure at the ER will cost a lot of time and money.”
“Yes, yes!” I nearly shouted. I was so relieved. It was worth the money and the time, as long as I wouldn’t be out of commission for a full five days.
The doctor gave me the first dose of the antibiotic that day. As soon as the IV infusion was complete, I went straight to see Patrick in the ICU.
Patrick’s “septic” condition refused to clear up. He also suffered from a moderate persistent fever at the end of his most recent hospital stay. Eventually, the doctors decided to change his treatment plan from hospital to home care. We were on our own.
The positive side of this was that my own health crisis with the MDR bacterial infection turned out to be a wake-up call. Standing at the edge of that cliff, forced to reckon with an immediate threat to my own health, I suddenly recognized the reality of my life and the weight of my Self.
This traumatic event made me see, for the first time, that I was separate from Patrick—and that I was equally as precious and vulnerable as he was. While I tried to become a foundation for him, I had at some point erased the boundaries between us. Now those boundaries returned, and I could see them clearly—and as I acknowledged their presence, the thought of divorcing Patrick, this idea that had haunted me for so long, became no longer important. Without awareness of these boundaries, I’d felt constantly threatened and trapped within Patrick’s power. Now, however, I understood it wasn’t him but me who was causing the feeling. I understood I had a choice in every situation; my power had to come from within, not from someone or something else.
As all this became clear to me, I made my own conscious choice to continue and complete my journey with Patrick to the end, no matter where that might bring us.
Divorce would never again cross my mind.
Kyomi O’Connor is the author of the forthcoming memoir ‘A Sky of Infinite Blue: A Japanese Immigrant’s Search for Home and Self’ published in September 2022. In actively working to address her past emotional abuse, she moved to the States in 1990 to work as a researcher. There she met her husband-to-be, Patrick, an English researcher with Irish heritage. Her life journey led to a career change when the couple moved to San Diego for his job, and when together they entered into Buddhist practice. As Patrick became ill in 2013, Kyomi took care of him for three years until his death. Writing her memoir has been part of her journey to find the wholeness of herself.