The dream started out with the same young Indian girl, kneeling by the same plant. Only this time she was digging around it, taking care not to hurt the thick, fleshy root beneath the ground. Pulling the root out gently, she raised it up to the sky, thanking the Great Spirit for his bounty. She then did something that Kellie only saw in movies. Cutting off chunks of the root, she popped them in her mouth, chewing vigorously for a long time, than spat out the masticated root into her hand. Repeating the process till she had a good sized ball of chewed root, she did the same with the leaves and mixed it with the root, putting it all in her basket. Then like before, she turned as if she could see Kellie and said,
“Use the plant.”
John’s surgery was scheduled for the third week in September, only four months away. Opting for the Whipple procedure, a complicated, dangerous surgery that involved removing a portion of John’s stomach, lower bowel and the head of the pancreas. Cure rate was fifty percent, better than the ten percent from chemo and radiation. It was risky, with the recovery time more than a month, but at this point they wanted better odds of survival than the ten percent. Kellie sat in the kitchen nursing a cup of coffee, thinking of the road that lay ahead. Why did this have to happen to such a good man? She was angry at God for trying to take her John away. Looking out the kitchen window, her eyes widened in surprise. The plant had doubled in size! Running outside, her jaw dropped at the sheer size of it. It was was easily four feet tall, a full foot taller than yesterday, the brilliant orange blooms intoxicating and fragrant. Looking at it, the dream came back to her. “Use the plant.” What did that mean? Use it for what? On a whim, she went inside to her computer and typed in, ‘plants and their uses’, pulling up plants from all over the world. She was shocked to find out that each plant, even common weeds that she saw everyday, had edible and medicinal properties. Excited, she read more, until she knew what she had to do.
Racing outside with a shovel, Kellie dug around the plant as she had see the Indian woman do, careful not to harm the root. Racing back inside with the plant in hand, she put it on the table and sat down with a knife from the drawer. She remembered how the woman shaved off pieces of the root, putting them in her mouth to chew. It had a pleasant, nutty, wood taste, but she was careful not to swallow any of the liquid or paste. She placed all that she’d chewed in a bowl, then started on the leaves. Jaws aching, she chewed until every last leaf was stripped from the stems. She felt led to cover and place the mixture in a dark, cool place until she found out how to use it.
That night, Kellie was anxious to fall asleep as she sipped a honey-sweetened
chamomile tea. John lay beside her exhausted after a rough day of doctor appointments and a nutritionist. Kellie’s eyes were slowly being opened to the benefits of plants and their medicinal and edible uses. She was amazed at how many common weeds, ones you see everyday, were beneficial to your health and diet! One weed, the common Plantain, grew absolutely everywhere and its healing properties, when applied to rashes, spider bites, snake bites, and poison ivy were phenomenal. Another, Mallow, she’d pulled out of her garden last year countless times, ignorant
of its benefits. Everything from snakebite to eczema. The flowers had a mucilaginous property for sore throats and indigestion.
“Kell, what are you reading?” John asked lazily, half asleep. “The light is keeping me up, babe.”
“John, I had no idea that plants, common weeds, had so many uses!” she said, animated. “Just with our backyard alone I could have a whole drug store!”
“Okay, nature girl, tell all about it in the morning, ‘k?” he moaned, turning over. “I just want to sleep.”
Kellie felt a deep sadness thinking how this cancer monster was just stealing the life from her husband. He would have shown immediate interest in matters concerning plants. He loved the idea of growing food and canning for the winter months. Now, his favorite thing to do was sleep. With her arm around his thinning frame, she fell into a troubled sleep, tears rolling down her cheeks to soak into her pillow.
The new dream had a sense of urgency as the Indian woman knelt alongside a sleeping man. Kellie could smell the burning sage the woman had in her hand as she waved it over him, chanting in prayer. Walking over to a shelf, she uncapped a bladder of liquid that Kellie felt in heart was alcohol. Pouring the a alcohol inside the balls of chewed up leaves, she let it soak in, placing the leaf mixture in a clay bowl. The dream changed to another slot of time, with the Indian woman coming back to get the mixture, with what Kellie assumed was a only a week or two. She didn’t
know how she knew, she just did. She saw the woman break off pieces into a meaty broth, feeding it to the prone man. The woman looked at Kellie, worry in her eyes and said,
“You must hurry!”
Startled awake at how loud the voice sounded, how urgent, Kellie ran down to the kitchen and searched for the grain alcohol she knew that John stored. Finding it, she set it on the table. She decided to hold together the ball of chewed leaves and root with some coconut oil that she just happened to have on hand. Another anomaly, since she never used it or bought it before. Putting the mixture in a bowl, she poured the grain alcohol over it, placing a cheesecloth on top as a cover. She set the bowl in the pantry, the driest, darkest spot. She’d give a week. She knew what this was all about now. She knew that somehow, someway, she was just given healing knowledge from a ancient .
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