Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yesterday I spent pretty much all the time sitting with the lady I talked about before (PT L). She was scheduled to go home and so spending the time with her seemed appropriate. We briefly talked about how her weekend had been, that her husband had visited with her, but that she hadn't been so good. Then I asked her how long she'd been sick. She told me since when, for several months. Then I asked what she'd done before she was sick. She told me. Then I asked if she'd like to see photos of my children and she indicated that she would. I got my iPod out of my pocket and found some pictures to share with her. She lit up. I told her a little about them, related to the pictures - about my daughter in ballet class, and how she's such a girlie girl ("She's so CUTE!" she kept saying, with a smile on her face) and then about my son and cub scouts, how much he loves that. There was one picture of him, in his full uniform, with a very serious expression on his face. There were also a few pictures of him in his suit (first communion, she particularly liked that, how proud he looked) or in his vest. She noticed how he liked to dress up. It took her away from her illness for a while.
I had been unsure about sharing such things, but clearly it had been the right thing to do. She was so much looking forward to going home. We talked about that; about how much nicer it is to be with your own things, and to sleep in your own bed. In my mind, I could certainly relate to those aspects of her predicament, but did not mention this. I'm so glad I read one of the books I had rented from Chegg for one of my classes, since here I get to actually implement some of the points there. In normal conversation one is always tempted to bring up similar examples from one's own life in response to comments from whomsoever one is in conversation with. In my current role in this place, as the book reminds me, you cannot do that. It is not about you it is all about the person you are being with; they don't need to know about your 36 hour labor, or about living in a sublet and with someone else's stuff, or about the trauma of transatlantic moves, or that time your kid went missing, but briefly, and it was dark and you were terrified. No, now your job is to listen and acknowledge and certainly one should empathize (heaven knows that whatever experiences you have had in your life facilitate that but must remain unmentioned).
It truly is most profound and wonderful, nay privileged, to be able to share with someone who is having to face something - which we all ultimately face, of course, but which few of us are actually called upon to face quite so precipitously.

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