I was two hours into faculty orientation today, my back sore from sitting and my mind starting to wander, when they played this video for us:

At first this seemed like a collage of Scrubs scenes – you know, the episode endings that are supposed to be the “heart” of the story. I had my defenses up. We’ve seen dozens of these, and they are invariably cheesy. But something was different about this video. Or perhaps something was different about me, watching this video now, after Michael’s recent illness. As the frames rolled on, I found myself with moistened eyes. I reached furtively into my purse for a Kleenex. I was not alone. People were sobbing audibly across the room.

It is a short video with no spoken words, yet my mind was blown. I did not hear a word from the rest of the orientation speakers this morning. I texted Michael the video link – he responded “This is really sad,” i.e. why would you send this tear-jerker about medical illness to your recently medically ill husband? As I tried to articulate to him my reasons for sharing, it became clear why this video resonated with me.

While it is incredibly sad, the purpose of this 4-minute film is not to sadden. My own reaction, even as I wept, was one of gratitude and hope. Since April 12, when our world was turned upside down, we have encountered so much kindness and empathy – from family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, but also from perfect strangers who see us walking into the Cancer Center and offer an encouraging smile. Hospitals are a complicated place, and everyone is there for a complicated reason. It is also a microcosm for the real world, where everyone in it has a story to tell. As both a patient’s wife and a healthcare professional, I am at a unique position to understand Michael’s disease – clinically, scientifically, but also emotionally. Some days are more difficult than others, and on those difficult days, it is when I listen to him as a wife that helps more than when I am a doctor.

So, I share this video here with a reminder to myself – to each day stand in someone else’s shoes, to be grateful for gestures of kindness, big or small, and to cherish those that bring joy to my life.

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