Jumping into the Deep End

Taking more risks in life (that you can’t take back!)

I have jumped into the deep end of the pool. And I cannot undo that. It’s time to sink or swim.

I retired two years ago this month, just about the time that the pandemic really hit. I have spent a lot of time home alone, which is not at all an unpleasant thing for me. I love solitude, and the pandemic, although I would not wish that on anyone, somehow gave me permission to simply be, and not have to do. Anything.

I have always loved to write and to paint, but really did not have the time or energy while working full time to really devote to either passion. Now I do. And I have taken the leap.

One small step and decision leads to another.

I joined an art association, which then led to by being part of their annual art show. And actually hanging some of my art work in public! That art association also led to my signing up accidentally (there are no accidents) with an online group through which you could submit your work for online exhibits and shows. For a more shy person (especially about my art and writing), this online experience was perfect for me. I could apply in what felt like a more anonymous way, making fear of rejection somehow a bit less personal. So apply I did. I have been lucky enough to have several of my paintings published in the magazine called Artistonish, as well as being accepted into a few other online exhibits!

I heard about blogs and how that would be a good thing to do if one wanted to write a book, get more of a platform. This is where I fully embraced the concept of “Fools rush in where angels dare to tread!” Not only did I have no real idea what or how to blog, but I somehow also managed to figure out how to start one and jumped in and began to blog. i still don’t know much about blogging, but I’m not letting that stop me!

I met other writers on this blog, lovely people. One of them (thank you, Marie!) mentioned the publication called Crow’s Feet (people aging and writing about their experience with this, mostly). So, not really knowing much about this, I jumped in and joined. And have had several pieces of my writing accepted and published by them! It’s so exciting, and makes me a bit anxious (but thankfully, again, not enough to stop me!)

I have lived much of my life being quietly in the background, doing what needed to be done, being as authentic as I could be, but not calling too much attention to myself. I learned this early on as a way to try and stay safer in the world.

I have learned and continue to learn that being safe is highly overrated. As I age, especially, I now see that being safe doesn’t serve me so well. Death becomes more of the reality that it is as we age, and I feel and see that intensely these days. If I don’t express who I am now, when will I?

I wonder how many unexpressed works of art lie buried in cemeteries? How many stories untold?

So, deep end of the pool, here I am.

And now a dear friend has referred me to our very local magazine as a person that they might be interested in for their feature story one month. What? Me? What possibly could I offer, I wondered?But, there is no jumping out of the deep end back onto the diving board, so here I am. I will answer their questions. I will submit my responses and photos. This is actually terrifying for me and against all the rules I made growing up about how to navigate this world.

Here I am in the deep end. Swimming. Swallowing some water, yes, but still swimming. Stroke by stroke. Sometimes resting and treading water is all that I can do, but that is good enough. I am still here. In the deep end. More fully engaged in my own life and who I am and have always been. Expressing myself. Being more fully alive.

Scary? You bet! But, the alternative is even scarier. So, the deep end it is. Here I am. Vibrating with the energy of life. Still here. And so very grateful for each shaky, scary, exciting, fully alive moment.

Care to jump in and join me? The water’s great!

We Regret to Inform You..

(Firing the jury within)

To all those who received a notice to become members of the jury within my head, those invitations were sent out in error. Some of them long ago. Some of them more recently. Please disregard those notices.

It has come to our attention that you do not quite understand the function of a proper jury. Clearly you were not provided clear and adequate instructions. The purpose of a jury is to come to just decisions, weighing all the evidence as best as possible. It is also not the purpose of the jury to hand out sentences and severe, lifelong judgments.

We have come to this decision to release you all after carefully weighing the evidence and history of your service.

You have been relentless in your judgments and sentences.

You have been severely critical from your first day of service, criticizing the way that I look, the way that I walk, talk, think, play, laugh, all the ways that I simply am myself in the world. I worked hard to try and please you. Unsuccessfully., thank God.

I am happy to report that I have not forgotten who I was before all of your judgments began.

You criticize my face, my body, my hair color, my eye color, my shape, my weight, my diet. You shame me into withdrawing from being seen and heard (even though that is what my soul craves), telling me that others will be even more harsh than you. And that their opinion matters more than whatever I may feel or think.

You have been a lifelong companion, criticizing and judging my school work (straight A’s were the only thing good enough), my college experience, my choice of careers and my performance in that career.

You shamed me about my relationships and choices that I made. Yes, I made some less than perfect choices. I am human. You even criticized me for that. You shame me for a failed marriage. We were both young and quite human and inexperienced in the art and skill of relationship. And we are still good and deep friends, having cast aside your terms for our own.

You berate me for being too quiet, yet jump in with negative comments when I do speak up.

You even shame me for my aging body and mind, as if living and learning this long has no merit.

You judge the way that I dress, yet quickly jump to attack anything new or different that I may try.

You relentlessly attack the kind of daughter that I was, never good enough in your eyes.

You even attack the kind of pet parent that I was, blaming me for not trying hard enough at the end with one of my 17 year old kitties, even though the vet repeatedly said that this kitty was so sick.

You judge the sadness that I often feel, telling me that I should be constantly cheerful and that to be sad is to not be grateful. Can you not see that I am grateful for the sadness as well, that it carves out that much more room in my heart and soul for deep joy?

You relentlessly fill my basket of regrets, lest I run out.

You are harsh even now, as I write this. You berate my writing and my painting, comparing me to others and telling me that I don’t have the right to do either.

You judge how I have avoided conflict, yet are ever constant in letting me know that whatever conflict I have engaged in, it was wrong somehow. Even laughable. Shameful.

You may have meant well, so I will take that into consideration. You were doing what you thought would protect me from the harshness of the world, bringing that harshness inside so that it would stop any more from coming in. I understand your intentions. However, your services are no longer needed.

And to those jurors who were immediately rejected because you might have been too positive in your opinion of me, I apologize. You may be getting new notices and invitations in the mail soon. Your input will now be valued and accepted. I thank you for your patience for the time it has taken to realize your value.

And so, jurors who were invited in error, it is time to leave the jury box.

I have had enough.

I have had enough.

The Deafening Silence of Grief

Photo credit: K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

I am staying home today, all day. I need to be quiet, alone, in solitude, silent. 

A familiar visitor came by this morning. Grief. It’s back. It’s my frequent companion, more and more so as I continue this aging journey.

I heard of two deaths yesterday.

 One was a patient that I used to work with at the nursing facility where I was a social worker for 15 years. He was a lovely man from Ethiopia with a family whose graciousness was a joy to behold and I felt blessed to receive. He died suddenly. He had been ill, but it had been managed for a while. 

He also had some confusion. We had to watch him carefully so he didn’t wander away and possibly get lost on the large campus we were on, or wander into the busy traffic close by. So the staff, myself included, would take him for walks when we could. 

He was sweet and appreciative of the nature around us, of being outdoors, of the fresh air, the trees, the flowers, the wild turkeys that were not shy in making their presence known. He would hold his hands in a prayer gesture and express his gratitude to God for everything. 

His sister let me know yesterday that he died a few days ago. Although I did not keep in touch with the patients once I retired (the pandemic was part of the reason), they never left my heart. So the loss felt deep and sharp, and my tears flowed for this kind man who shared those sacred walks with me.

I also heard that a fellow artist died a few days ago, soon after a recent diagnosis of an aggressive form of lung cancer. I had joined the art association he belonged to less than a year ago, and was lucky enough to be beside him during an art show where he would demonstrate his art techniques to anyone interested. He smiled often, conversed with others, was kind to me as a newcomer, and was so delighted when he would sell any of his paintings. I had looked forward to getting to know this gentle soul more in the future. He is gone. 

I woke up this morning, feeling this familiar weight of grief. I have been quietly sitting with this grief today, the silence only punctuated by moments of deep sobbing. 

I am remembering these two men.

I am remembering the many friends and family members I have lost (the number increasing with each year that I am blessed enough to live). I have no family left around me, none that I relate to further away. My friends are my family, and I have lost many members of that tribe as well. 

I am remembering the three kitties who I lost over the period of a year, the last one a year ago at the end of this month. Two of them had been with me for 17 years. My heart aches for their furry companionship, their presence in my home and in my life, their love that transcended words.

I am feeling all of the losses, the pain, the grief, the deep ache, the utter aloneness. This non-negotiable piece of life. I feel the stinging tears in my eyes, the constriction in my throat, the heaviness of grief in my body and soul. 

And yet…

I am grateful for it all. For the ability to feel all of it. For the pain of loss, which is a testament to the depth of attachment and love. For the heavy silence of today, which helps me tune into my body and soul and its richness and depth. For the sobs, which help to remind me of my voice and its capacity to express these feelings in ways that my words cannot.

I am grateful for life, which has both the bitter and the sweet, one not possible without the other. For the lessons of grief. To remember, to feel, to be. To appreciate each precious connection and each sacred moment while I am still here, still alive. To hope that I have perhaps touched others in some ways that will help them also feel this gift of grief, this gift of being human, of being here with each other, and of being held in each others’ hearts. 

Random Moments of Connection

I live alone and truly enjoy solitude. I also cherish real and deep connection. And I am constantly surprised at how and when these gifts of connection can show up.

I was home yesterday, as I had an appointment scheduled for the pest control service to show up. (I struggle with this whole concept of pest control as well, but that is for another post).

This lovely young man showed up at my door, ready to provide the service and asked what I needed. He was friendly and respectful, and seemed open and wanting a conversation.

So we began talking as he prepared to do his work. And I found out that he was in school , studying both graphic arts and technology. That he was helping his grandmother with some projects around the house. That he loved being around trees and nature (my house is surrounded by trees). That he loved art and hoped to have his career revolve around that.

I happen to be an artist as well. So we talked about art. And I found myself encouraging this young man to never let go of his dream. I shared that I had reconnected with my dreams of being a both a writer and an artist only after I retired two years ago. And that I was so thrilled to see that those parts of me had waited for me to come back home to them. I encouraged him to follow his soul and passion in his life.

At one point, I thought that perhaps I was being too talkative, taking time away from his work. So I mentioned that I should let him do his job. He responded that we could keep talking if I wanted to walk with him while he worked. What a delightful invitation, and one that felt genuine and heartfelt. So we kept talking. And I showed him some of my artwork. I told him about my favorite art store and where it was.

He talked about being excited to get some canvasses to paint.

We agreed that he would send me a photo of his first canvas. He smiled at my request for this. And also offered to be available to help with any tech assistance that he could offer, since part of our conversation had been about my frustration with some of this. How sweet and kind.

He left, texted me with a thank you for the encouragement and inspiration.

A sweet connection. A surprise encounter. A lovely gift. A sharing of a common passion for art, for that expression of soul and spirit. A meeting of two that on the surface would seem to have absolutely nothing in common with each other.

All we need is to be open to what may be right in front of us at any moment. We are all connected in some way. We only need to find the common language that we share. Beyond age, beyond any obvious differences. Members of our tribe are hidden in the most delightful of places!

Must. Keep. Laughing!

How many trips to the grocery store does it take to remember to buy that one item that you went in there for in the first place? I will let you know as soon as I succeed with getting the item!

One of the joys of aging…watching the memory slips and lapses. I can remember what happened decades ago, but can’t tell you what I had for lunch yesterday.

So off to the grocery store I went to buy a bit of gum, which helps me when I don’t want to eat out of whatever feeling I may be trying to deal with (or avoid) in the moment.

Exit the grocery store, with needed items. Which did not include gum.

Off to the drug store to buy some needed items,….great, I thought, I could buy some gum from there.

Exit drug store with items, without gum.

Off to the grocery store once again, for something that I needed to bring to a friend. Exit grocery store with that item – but , yes, you guessed it, once again with no gum.

Ok, at this point, I had to sit down and laugh at myself. Maybe, I thought, it’s the Universe telling me to not chew so much gum.

Is it frustrating? Yes, Is it a bit scary? Yes, at times. But mostly, it’s pretty funny. Which, I think, is the attitude that I need to maintain with some of these age related changes that I notice.

I’m still functioning, I am still alive and healthy and doing well. Without that gum.

I am still enjoying life after retirement – enjoying writing, painting, and simply being alive.

I still remember to get dressed before I leave the house, turn off any appliances that need to be turned off, put the milk in the refrigerator and not the cupboard….all in all doing ok. I am grateful.

Now, what is it that I was supposed to buy at the grocery store????

Ode To Turning 69 (WTF?????)

Photo by Guido Jansen on Unsplash

Twas the year before seventy, and all through my head

Fears of ever more wrinkles and jiggles filled me with dread

Notes of things to remember were posted with care

In hopes that my memory would soon meet me there

The skin creams were stacked on the counter in line

With dreams of smoother skin in a short period of time

And me in my nightie, for only my eyes

With hopes to wake up in the morning more wise

And up I dashed to the bathroom for a quick tinkle

Playing beat the clock before I could sprinkle

I see now what they mean by the term “Golden Years”

Refers to a liquid that is not your tears

And being of a “certain age” refers to what I must know

 I need to be certain of each restroom’s location wherever I go

I don’t drive as much as I used to at night

The eyes don’t see quite as well and can be given to fright

I become more invisible and yet I am told

That I must do all that I can to avoid looking old

I have much experience and wisdom to share

Yet sometimes as seen as only laughable here

“Cute” works fine for a baby and child

Not so much for a woman still wild

I am all that I have been and now even more

Yet only seen for the wrinkles, saggy skin and signs of aging galore

I am written off, discounted, cast aside as done

When truly my soul feels as if we have only just begun

Grief is a more constant companion these days

And has much to teach me in its bold and harsh ways

Time grows shorter and sensitivity grows

Tears come more easily, along with the highs and the lows

All are part of the fabric of this sacred strife

All part of this sacred gift of our life

There even seem to be rules for how aging is done

Have we not had enough rules when we were young?

It is time to be truly ourselves and be free

It is time to embrace all that we can still be

To laugh, cry, and love….and enjoy all the sides

Happy aging to all, and to all a great ride!

(With apologies to “Twas The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore and Henry Livingstone Jr! No disrespect meant, only the very necessary laughter needed for this aging journey! I find that I needed some lightness on this, my 69th birthday! I hope this brings a smile!)

(Also posted on Medium and submitted to Crow’s Feet)

Finding the Divine at the Zoo

I found moments of the Divine and Sacred at the zoo yesterday.

I am lucky enough to volunteer at our local zoo on Saturdays. I am on the Behavior Observation Team for the elephants. I have the honor of getting to observe these majestic creatures for several hours each Saturday and record their behaviors and see how they are doing. It’s such a gift. I started this volunteer work several years ago before I retired from my job (social worker ) and I think that this time on the weekends helped me survive the last several challenging years at my job.

So where did I find the Divine? It is my belief that God, the Universe, the Divine (many names for one Presence) can be be found in the most unexpected places. Of course. When I stop to think about it, how could it be any other way? What we look for is not often at the end of our search, but along the way.

I find moments of this sacred presence in the animals. To have the time to simply be with another being (human or non) and sit and fully inhabit the present moment with them…..that is a gift. To slow down and be with another creature as it simply lives, breathes, and is alive in the moment with me….how often do we really allow ourselves to truly sit and be with someone, something, some moment in time? Time slows down. Worries fade into the background. This is what meditation is for me.

And, if I am open to it, I find other moments of connection to the Divine come to me.

A mother come to stand by me with her two sons …(.I try and answer questions about our elephants when asked, even though I am not a docent, but rather an observer.) One of her sons was, she told me, autistic. His laughter would sometimes scare others away. Although only 11 years old, he was big for his age and could sometimes frighten others with being loud or having sudden jerky movements. I watched this mother, this oh so loving mother, and how gentle and encouraging and positive she was with her son. And I watched how his older brother was gentle and always close by and protective of his younger brother. Although a teenager, he displayed a wisdom and patience beyond his years. The mother spoke to me about how her sons were such a blessing to her, how they had taught her to slow down, live in the moment, appreciate the important things in life and not worry about the little things that really don’t matter in the long run. I was moved. This 11 year old did not want to leave the elephants, so I got to spend close to an hour with them beside me. Enough that I was able to connect with both boys, have them make eye contact with me (a big deal with the 11 year old because of his autism and a big deal with the teenager because of his dividing his time between his brother and his cell phone….). Most people spend an average of two minutes at each exhibit at the zoo – hardly enough to really see the animals. So having an hour to point out different things that the elephants might be doing and explain and help them see….this was lovely. When it was time to leave, the good byes were genuine and heartfelt. I felt such gratitude for such depth of connection in a chance encounter. A moment with the Divine…the Divine in all of us.

A little girl (maybe 4?) came up and stood between my legs the other week as I was observing the elephants and she began talking about the elephants. Her parents were surprised, since none of us had ever met before. And yet, perhaps she sensed a kindred spirit in loving these creatures. It was lovely. She stayed for a few moments, left and then came back again to do a little more of this. As she left, her father said to her “wave goodbye to your new best friend”…. I don’t think he knew what to make of the whole thing. A moment of connection that has no explanation….nor does it need one.

Yet another moment occurred yesterday with another volunteer. I had met her before, and we spent a few moments talking. I have started reading “Bittersweet” by Susan Cain (and have been talking about it to those that I think might relate to it – it talks about the beauty and necessity of darkness and sadness….in much more depth than I can explain here). This other volunteer related to what this was about, and we had quite an intense conversation about this and the need to allow all of our feelings rather than trying to push for only the positive ones….that indeed allowing and getting to know all of what we feel allows so much for depth and appreciation for all the moments of life and the beauty, even in the pain. The pain that allows us to feel and to then be able to connect to others’ pain,…..so that we can all feel perhaps a bit less alone. Another connection and moment unexplained…

They leave me in awe, these moments and connections. I am reminded that they are all around us and within us, if we only slow down and stop enough to see, hear, feel and share them.

Isn’t it interesting, I wonder, that the older that I keep getting, the more I see the importance of slowing down, stopping, looking, listening, opening….to the earth, to its creatures, to each other, to the Sacred Divine Presence that is in all of these. Including this moment of writing this and sharing it with you. I am grateful for it all.

A Cup of Coffee- A Look Into the Mirror of Time

I gave myself a treat yesterday and stopped in to get a cappuccino at one of my favorite neighborhood cafes.

As I was sitting there, an older woman (my, how my definition of “older” changes over the years) slowly walked in with her cane, walked up to the counter to order, and sat down at the table beside me to wait. I had been on my phone up until then, and decided to put it away and simply be there and be more available, should she want to engage in conversation.

I did not want to intrude. I can also be a bit shy, so I simply sat there, feeling open, looking around, sipping my coffee. At one point, she looked my way, and I commented on how her food looked good. She mentioned that she bought herself this egg and bacon sandwich once a week. I responded that yes, we needed to treat ourselves.

I watched her (hopefully not too obviously) as she seemed to enjoy her meal, then brushed the crumbs off the table, and quietly drank her coffee. I wondered what her story was, what her life had and is like, did she live alone…so many questions. I felt that she was comfortable being there and I didn’t feel like conversation may have been anything that she wanted right then. I wanted to be open, and to also respect her boundaries. So I sat there a bit longer than I intended. And when I needed to leave, I made a joke about how coffee goes through me quickly as I got up. She pointed behind her to show me where the restroom was. We women, I think, have to know where the restrooms are located – especially after we reach a “certain age”. And I left, wishing her a good day. I made a note of the day of the week that it was, so that perhaps I might stop in that particular day and time again and have her begin to see me more regularly and perhaps we could strike up a conversation.

I looked at her, and I saw what may be a version of my own future self. She clearly was an independent woman, alone, and out and about. She walked slowly with her cane, but she walked. Will that be me? I live alone now, consider myself independent (and am grateful for my health and ability to be so every single day). I will continue to get more lines, more age related changes, more evidence of the passage of years and of my life. I love my solitude, and also cherish relationships with depth. I have no family that I keep in contact with, as they are quite far away and I didn’t grow up with them nor do I speak their language.

I realize now that I was sitting quietly beside her not only to be open to having contact, but to keep learning how to sit with the possible future version of myself and to become more comfortable with that, should I be blessed enough to live longer on this earth. I need to befriend that future version that may come to be, and open a dialogue with her inside me. Others may or may not approach me, but I must keep the conversation going with myself and not become invisible to me. I will still be there, with my story and my history. I will still be alive. And I can still treat myself to things and places that I enjoy. I can still claim and take my space, even if others may find me invisible. And maybe someday someone may sit quietly beside me at times, and simply be with me in that space that we share at that moment in time.

Getting Comfortable with Feeling Lost

I am realizing that it is ok to feel lost – a lot.

I have been retired for almost two years now, two years during this pandemic. It has been a time of solitude (a very comfortable place for me most of the time), of inner exploration, of getting re-acquainted with who I am. After almost 69 years in this body and on this earth, you might think that I should already have that figured out, yes? Yet, I find that there is ever so much more to explore.

There are parts of me that have been quieted over the years – whether it be in the service of devoting my attention to my work, to my current relationships, to whatever may be first and foremost in my life at the time. And now, I no longer work at my job. So…that no longer defines who I am or how I structure my day, I am single, so a relationship no longer serves to create some definition of who I am in relation to someone else. I live alone, so housemates or family that lived with me before no longer serve to create those definitions and boundaries. I have no children or family that I feel close to that can also serve to define me as part of that group.

So, I feel lost at times. Lost without all those ways of helping me to define who I am and what my purpose is.

And it’s ok. It hasn’t always been ok to feel lost, but it is getting more and more comfortable these days. How can I find my new direction (or my way back home to mySelf) if I don’t get a little lost? How can I see more clearly who and what draws me toward them if I don’t stand in the space of not knowing for a while? How can I feel what brings me joy if I don’t become quiet and still – to allow those parts of me to emerge? How can I share who I am with you if I don’t take the time to go within and hear those things from myself? How can I truly find my direction if I don’t allow myself the acknowledgment of feeling lost?

So here I am. I write, and that is part of who I am and how I express myself. And I love when others read what I write and relate to any parts that I have written. That is part of the tribe that I belong to and part of my purpose. I paint, and love when others find something in my paintings that stirs anything in them or gives them pleasure.

I am in solitude quite a bit, and enjoy those times when I do choose to get together with friends. ( I also find that these times are more carefully chosen as I continue to age, as time becomes more precious with each passing year.)

I am more open with who I am these days, not having to present any kind of professional image that will be accepted by any employer.

I can pay more attention to the things around me these days. One of my joys for the past several years has been to volunteer are our local zoo. I am on the Behavior Observation Team and I get to spend two hour shifts weekly simply observing the elephants and recording their behavior. What lessons this continues to teach me. How little we are taught to simply be still, watch, and listen. And breathe. And simply be part of this earth and all of its wonders. Observing these majestic creatures has humbled me and taught me to stop and take in so much more of all that is around me.

I have bird baths in my back yard, and I am delighted to watch them and all their splashing about. It makes me smile and giggle, and keeps me busy running out there to replenish the water in the tiny bird bath as well as the bottoms of plant containers where they also love to bathe. Such pure joy! I never had the time before. Or never took the time.

So, do I sometimes feel lost? Absolutely. Do I get anxious about that? Yes, at times. And yet, it’s really a gift and blessing, I realize, to have the time and space to actually feel this and explore it and keep on finding my way back home – my way back home to me.

A Letter To My Doctor

I wonder, Doctor, if you know that our phone appointment left me with an ache in my heart this morning.

I tried to get ready for our appointment, listing all my questions and concerns and requests for referrals, knowing how pushed you are for time and how I need to be ready and organized for our call. I understand that.

I was ready. At the end of each question or request for another referral, your question was “Is there anything else that you need before we end this call?”. Although innocent enough, I could feel the pressure you felt to get through this and onto the next appointment, or perhaps onto your lunch, since our phone appointment was at noon.

Do you know how important the relationship between a doctor and patient can be? Do you know that it is so much more than you providing the referrals, answers, ideas and then moving quickly to end the time? It is more than the mechanics and the details of what I might need at that time. It is the relationship with you that is also a huge part of the equation for me.

You are my doctor, my partner in my taking care of my health. That is significant to me. You are significant to me. Yet, I feel like you don’t even really remember who I am. I know that you have so many patients and such limited time….I truly understand, having been a social worker in the county skilled nursing facility myself before I retired. I know how productivity is measured. I know that healthcare is also a business. I know that you have things that have to be done.

For one moment, however, I would like to get your attention on a deeper level. In that phone conversation, our lives touched for a moment. And I am entrusting you with helping me live my best life in terms of my physical health and well-being. And when that phone call ended, I felt sad. Very, very sad. I know that this sadness is about much more than our brief interaction, but I also know that our interaction added to my sadness at what I see happening in so many places in terms of lost opportunities for connection.

The time spent together does not really have to be much longer, I think. It is the quality of the time spent together….the attention (true, present and deep connection) that makes a difference. To enable the other to feel really seen, heard, and attended to. Paid attention to. Cared for and about during those moments together. What a difference it could make with just a simple statement and question….like “I don’t have as much time as I might like, but I wonder, how are you doing….really?” And then to take a few moments to really listen and hear. It would make a difference for me.

You were much more present with me when we first began our relationship – you, the healer, and me ,the patient. You were newer to the system then. You have learned and become much more efficient, which is what is demanded of you. And I feel the loss. And it makes me sad. It intensifies the aloneness that I, as a single older woman, can feel in this world.

I recently sent you a copy of the Advance Directive that I formulated with my Estate Attorney. You responded that you received it. Nothing else. It would feel so different to perhaps have an acknowledgment of what that process can be like…..what this time of life can be like….and that you heard and understood my wishes.

I took a chance at one point not too long ago and commented on the different quality of your email responses. You laughed and said that you were now following a formula where you could plug things into a template and that this worked much more efficiently. Oh…….I see….

So here I am, putting myself back together again. Shutting down the part of me that was open to you and hoping for a more human connection. Moving on with my day. I miss what we used to have. I miss how some of my previous doctors would talk with me, even (dare I say) share a piece of what was going on with them…..? A doctor who was retiring that shared some of his struggles throughout the years that I had known nothing about…..but he shared that with me and for a moment, we were two human beings connected. Another doctor who took the time to offer comfort after a less than sensitive phone call from another specialist giving me bad news on a late Friday afternoon…..news that turned out to be false. My doctor’s reassurance and presence helped me get through what could have been a weekend from hell.

I know that what I wish for may be a reflection of my age, and that things are different now. I have to say, though, that I still see how others respond when I take the time to really listen. That hunger and need has not changed. Have we learned to expect it less? Have we compartmentalized that to only primary “significant” relationships? Dare I say that all relationships have some level of significance?

I don’t blame you, Doctor….. I know that times have changed and that you are overwhelmed with patient care and numbers and documentation. I know. But I miss the moment of soul to soul connection that we might have had. That connection can be so nourishing and make a difference in someone’s day, someone’s week, someone’s month, someone’s life. I might have given you a moment of connection as well ….. a moment when you might have remembered why you first became a doctor…..