Patient Care, Perspectives

Reconciliation


I shared an email I received from a patient’s wife in clinic today. That patient had passed away a few years back. We were all sitting in clinic going about our daily business. The email asked me to say “hi” to everyone. I had forgotten about it but then someone reminded me of him. So I pulled it out and I shared it out loud.  It tugged at us and told us “you are always in our hearts”. As I was reading I was unaware that Wendee my nurse had started to cry, she sobbed “don’t they know that they never leave us too?”. Everyone around me was silent, and I said “I think they do know”. The email was gracious, magnificent if you asked me. She was telling me that she loved my blog and that she felt her husband beside her as she read it, that his children, when they grew older, would read it too. She thanked me for the years I gave them together and how she held us in her heart, of how we are always on her mind.

I take the bus home on occasions. It was a strange ride for me today. I could not shake the feeling of this email, it stayed with me. I had read this alone and it had a different effect. It was Wendee’s words that were echoing in the hollows of my mind. I stared at the advertisements that were plastered on the bus. One said in bold letters “have you ever saved a life?” My thoughts floated away, I remembered a younger version of myself talking to this man as a brother and confidant. I remembered our bond, our relationship. Paul Coelho a Brazilian lyricist says “When a person really desires something, the entire universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” This was this man to me. He was a pragmatic man that understood his fate, but he realized a dream that I could not possibly understand. Here was his wife thanking me for years I gave. Yet I felt I lost the battle. The truth is no I did not “save” a life.

The bus stops close to my home but a walk away. I crunched through the cold, walking to my house. Thoughts and images of my interaction with him. I miss my friend. What a man he was. A man of my age, his wife still thankful, still appreciative, still supportive. “Do they know they never leave us too?” And I reconciled that disconnect that I have. I felt I failed, and she felt I won. Simple exchanges from one human to the next make a difference far greater than one can expect. I really appreciate the kindness, in helping me feel a loss is a victory nonetheless. 

Thank you.

Mo

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6 thoughts on “Reconciliation

  1. Claire Barnhouse says:

    Mo, you are saving lives.. you and your staff give each person hope and a reason for living… God has a timeline on all of us..we will never know when that time is but you enter the picture to extend that to the best of your abilities. This gives us all HOPE…. what would we do without you and your staff reaching out to help.. We all love you Mo and your staff.. You are a blessing and god put you here to give us hope and what a gift that is…Keep being the amazing doctor of science that you are Mo..
    Claire

  2. RoxAnne says:

    You know, we all have a time limit on our lives. Even when that time is up, you have saved that life with the compassion and caring you give your patients during these final days. It would be easy to dis-associate but you don’t, and your staff is the same. The personal connection itself is a saving grace and as the patient’s wife said, makes the final days, months, or years so much more. So, you do save a life for whatever time we have remaining on this earth. Thank you so much for that!

  3. I have read this 4 times now—it has made me cry each time. My tears are not necessarily sad–but full of love and emotion–I am very good at crying.
    My heart is just so full sometimes thinking of all of the people who touch my life–what an honor. Thank you Mo for expressing what I feel so elegantly. I don’t need words–I have tears.

  4. Loni Duncan says:

    Beautiful thoughts. I don’t know how you guys do it, deal with the pts and families with such compassion and face death every day. You did “save a life” – the lives of the pt and his family by making them feel like you really cared and did as much as is humanly possible. Nobody can ask for more than that so you’re doing God’s work, bringing peace to the family in a heart wrenching situation.

  5. Mikhail G Perlov says:

    I would disagree with the statement that you “did not save life”. What is life? Is it just the physical exestence here on this planet? then we can never save it — we are just passing through anyways.

    If you think of a life as an experience preparing us for the next phase of existence, then you still saved this man’s and his wife lives — with your help and their strength they have LIVED the years while fighting the disease, not just survived them.

    And, apparently, she is still living, experiencing and, hopefully, enjoying her life now, even after the loss she has suffered. Your guidance has allowed for their amazing energy to transform the experience from a hopeless struggle into something much more inspiring.

    I can only hope, one day, to achieve something like that, to help someone on such a deeep level.

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