Cinnamon Hearts and Rocky Mountains

by Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe


Sunbeams poured in through the long row of windows that made up the front wall of the big room, warming the room and giving it a cheery atmosphere. People lay in huge comfortable reclining chairs, and the voices that could be heard were soft and muted. Enjoying the taste of a tiny cinnamon candy, listening to the soft sounds, interrupted by an occasional beep, I sat and soaked up the glorious vista before me.

In the distance was the stately Rocky Mountains. They, like the windows, stretched from one end of the room to the other, appearing deceptively close. Some mountain peaks rose high into the clouds, other shorter peaks seemed to hug the taller, stately ones. Morning mist lingered over the larger peaks, slowly withdrawing in the morning sun. The fine mist was lifting from the mountain tops like the delicate veil of a bride being lifted to show a radiance that left the viewer in awe. Then a quiet voice brought me back to the reality of where I was, and why. "Mom, can you please adjust the blinds? The sun is shining in my eyes". It was the voice of a young woman, my daughter, a voice that is so precious to me.

Turning towards her I noticed the sunlight had moved and was directly in her face. Of course I would adjust the blinds. As I rose to do so the crash back to the reality of our situation pierced my whole being.

The room was a Treatment Room in a large Calgary Hospital. The large blue chairs each had someone receiving Intravenous therapy reclining in him or her. The therapies were all for various reasons, necessary therapy to enable these people to regain their health and move on with their lives. A young man studying the lines of a play in which he had a role, was receiving a much needed anti-rejection drug, a grandfather receiving blood transfusions, a photo of his grandson taped to the pole, and my daughter receiving chemotherapy for the malignancy that had invaded her young body. Her purse held an Angel given to her by my sister to take with her to her treatments and various appointments.

The Intravenous flow control pumps, so familiar to me from my years of nursing, hummed, beeped and blinked their miniature lights like futuristic decorative trees. My daughter was settled in a chair at the end of the long line of chairs, surrounded by her much loved books, yet constantly observing her fellow patients, chatting with her nurses, and occasionally reaching for her candy dish filled with tiny red cinnamon hearts. Through fellow patients, and a kind mother of a son who had undergone chemotherapy, she had been told that the cinnamon taste would disguise the chemical taste caused by chemotherapy. So many, if not all, of those ailing people and their worried family members, are willing to share tips and stories to help each other. I had seen it often as a nurse and had admired it so much. Now I was experiencing the reverse situation, I was the family member who appreciated those little tips, and my daughter was the chemotherapy patient. We both try to help and share anything we find helpful, anything that just might ease the hurt for somebody else as well. When I adjust the blinds my eyes are drawn to the small shiny candy dish on my daughters little table connected to the chair. A tiny dazzling sunbeam has found its' way to the cinnamon heart candy dish, and glistens and sparkles off its' shiny rim. The suns' warmth causes the tiny red candy to provide the sweet smell of the cinnamon. It is a smell of special occasions, mulled apple cider at Christmas time, stirred with a cinnamon stick, warm cinnamon rolls that she enjoyed after skiing all day, and the smell of her favourite loaf that I used to make. I decide to do so again soon. My heart remembers, and the little space in the corner of the large room, for me, is filled with heartache, and fear and tears I will not let her see. Never once have I heard her ask "Why me?", never have I seen her be anything but pleasant to those she meets in this room or elsewhere in the hospital. She shares her cinnamon hearts, telling her fellow patients that 'Mom got lucky-they're all on sale after Valentines' Day', which makes those around her smile. I cannot help but admire this young woman's' courage.

She is the young wife whose wedding pictures show such a healthy, athletic, beautiful bride, she is the mother of a smart, equally beautiful three year old child, and she is my daughter who spreads words of encouragement to all she meets. I cannot help but be impressed at how patiently she sits for five hours while her life-saving medications are administered.

Peeking through the blinds a little later I see that the mist has disappeared from the peaks of the Rockies. Now the mountain view reminds me of the line in an old song used to be sung by Girl Guides-the line that says 'The Big Rock Candy Mountains'.

Yes, the mountains look like the Rock Candy we had as children; the Cinnamon hearts show their red blush and share their wonderful scent. Put it all together and it is a healing recipe for the soul.

I am in a room full of fear and courage, with a smiling, but very ill, daughter. And I have Cinnamon Hearts and Rocky Mountains. It is a moment to remember forever.

Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe.

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