This is the record of a beautiful and loving friendship between Judith and me.
It took me 2 years to start writing about this deep and inspiring connection we had. For information: Judith passed over from terminal cancer 2 years ago last June. When I recently cleaned up my computer I found some writings from her. One of them I like to share here called ‘Ingrid and me’. This piece inspired me to write ‘Judith and me’. Together the writing tells the story of a magic and wonderful relationship of two women committed to learn, grow and evolve together to become again all they can be.
Ingrid and me
by Judith McIntyre
My relationship with Ingrid has been the most surprising and most rewarding I have ever had. When I first met Ingrid I was having chemotherapy for breast cancer and she offered to give me lifts to the Universal Medicine clinic where I was having counselling and Chakra-puncture. Quite soon she offered to be my main carer and I agreed. Then Ingrid moved in with me and before long we had both decided we would prefer to live together rather than alone. We both wanted to live in Goonellabah and we began to look at houses to buy. Initially we found nothing that was right.
This was way too fast for friends of ours. We both had friends who were suspicious that we would get ripped off somehow by the other. We ourselves somehow felt this relationship was right and it has proved to be so. I also had a friend say "what if she gets cancer again?" I thought, ‘what if I get cancer again?’ Actually we have both had recurrences in our relationship of 3 1/2 years. But our relationship is not about the breast cancer.
We have had some fun sharing the breast cancer experience however. Ingrid had a mastectomy on the right side and mine was on the left; Ingrid got me to swim in the pool on my property with her, naked. I was more inhibited although the pool was private because of shrubbery. We laughed at our having a matched pair between us and it was a freeing experience for me.
While the breast cancer was a common bond, the more important one was our love of the Universal Medicine teachings and the gratitude we felt for the enormous support we had received through the modalities and sessions we both had. We both understood that breasts are about nurturing and neither of us had known how to nurture ourselves. Now we were learning.
One of the remarkable features of our relationship has been how different we are – in a sense there was none of the usual rapport I was used to.
I see that rapport was based on common interests that were superficial distractions like film, books and art that were favourites of mine but of no interest to Ingrid. In fact she didn't have much time for idle chatter, which was a bit of a shock to me. On the other hand she said early on to me that the one thing she asked of me was that I not hold back if something didn't feel right between us.
Judith and me
by Ingrid Langenbruch
One day I got a call from the Universal Medicine clinic with a question; would I be happy to pick up another woman who had an appointment at the same time as me? She would also need a lift back home because she was going through chemotherapy and wouldn’t be able to drive.
So I picked her up and that was the first time I met Judith.
Immediately there was a familiarity and a connection there. From then on we agreed we would book our appointments to be at the same time and I would keep driving her.
I was at the time having regular counselling sessions and healing sessions to support my body as I also had breast cancer (for the past 9 years). The sessions focussed on healing (not curing) the energetic causes of the cancer and were also a support for my body to go through the treatments and the effects of the surgeries.
It was very amazing that we got close as fast as we did because we were so very different in many ways. I was very organised, tidy, clean – I wouldn’t say Judith wasn’t clean but she didn’t have a sense for order in a room. We were interested in very different things and used to do everything in our own way.
When we decided to move together we often wondered how we would share a kitchen – ‘we will need two kitchens,’ we would joke. In the end it actually never had the chance to be an issue because by the time we had a house together she didn’t have the energy anymore to do anything in the kitchen except to make the occasional cup of tea.
Judith loved my order and the way of positioning things, it was just not something she did. Before we bought a house together I had already begun to live with her so that I could help her while she was having chemotherapy – at home, with the cooking and running errands. Very soon we decided to live together permanently and even buy a house together.
We talked about owning the house together – and what the future of the house would be when one and then both of us died. Because we felt strongly about people needing and deserving much better care in the last stage of their life we wanted to make that available to others. So we decided that the house would be dedicated to the purpose of becoming a palliative care home in the future. And it was already this for Judith.
What totally fascinated and drew me to Judith was her unconditional love. Because we were so different it wasn’t easy in the beginning. We had to sort through a lot of issues and stuff that came up. We made the commitment to not stop communicating until it was again all clear between us. We would always keep talking and sharing until all was said and we both felt heard and understood – until there was nothing that was between our two hearts.
At the time I still had a harshness in the way I would express, something I used to call ‘German roughness’. This was not easy for Judith in the beginning but I always felt an unwavering love with her and from her, which made it totally easy whenever something came up – there was always the trust from both of us that ‘we will work through it’. And we always did.
It sometimes took time. I remember when I was living for a while back in my own house I felt very hurt about something. We were over 2 hours on the phone; sometimes me crying sometimes her crying and we just kept with it until we shared and we understood and we were totally clear with each other again.
So I feel this time where we lived at her house – me not all the time but on and off – all this work we did there became the foundation of what we brought to the house we bought together ... all the harmony that was in our house until she passed over.
We did have lots of fun too – like swimming naked in the pool and playing around like kids in there ... When she needed more help I would prepare her clothes and her bra for her. Because I didn’t have a right breast I would always put the prosthesis in the right breast bra pocket out of habit …when she put it on it didn’t work because she had a right breast but not a left one. We would always have a good laugh about that… it took me a while to put it in the left pocket straight away.
I learned a lot from how Judith was with people. She seemed to meet everybody with this total openness and love. It opened up for me what was possible when relating to people. I grew up in a household where my parents put me in an orphanage for periods of time without any explanation. This changed how I related to people over the course of my life. This deep trust and connection I had in my friendship with Judith was something I had never experienced with anyone before.
She was a role model, but that word seems to be too cold and distant to describe what a living inspiration she was. When I reflect on how she dealt with her terminal illness and how joyful and graceful she was to her last breath, I realise how much I learned from her.
Recently I was again diagnosed with another recurrence and it showed that the cancer had now metastasised. Being faced with death – whether sooner or later – I don’t think I would be as joyful and at ease, despite the disease, as I am today, if I hadn’t experienced what I felt with Judith . . . what she showed me was that there doesn’t have to be misery and suffering.
Disease or not, whatever is happening with our body doesn’t change who we really are.
This article was first published on Unimed Living