The Power of Presence
A few weeks ago, I was in my local garden shop. It’s a place I enjoy ‘getting lost in’ which translated for me, means that I enjoy walking around the grounds and store which include outside and inside plants along with numerous thoughtful trinkets to buy. I find it to be a peaceful place where I can wander and enjoy the pretty gifts, flowers and fauna which Mother Nature has bestowed on our world.
I was lost in thought when I saw him from far away. It was a man that I hadn’t seen in 7 years, but who meant the world to me. It was my oncologist. The man who healed me from the breast cancer which ravaged my body, whom I continue to thank because I am still here, able to be a good wife, mom, daughter, friend and person to everyone I meet. Dr. M was wandering around the store as well, looking at some potted plants.
I hadn’t seen him in 7 years because my medical insurance changed and I had to change doctors because of it. I remember crying when I had my last visit with him because he was such an amazing doctor with whom I had connected so well. He was different. He always took the time needed with his patients and his bedside manner was impeccable. He was well known in the cancer patient world as the Doctor Who Never Gives Up.
I was talking with one of the workers in the store whom I knew when I spied him again. I was barely listening to what she was saying as my mind was whirring. I longed to talk with him and to thank him, to show him that I’m still here. But how in the world do you do that when you are not sure he remembers you? Dr. M. has countless patients and surely in 7 years, he has seen countless more since I left his practice. Would he feel accosted if I were to walk over to him to take the opportunity to thank him? He probably doesn’t remember me for I don’t resemble the girl he once knew. And really, why would he remember me at all being that he’s had so many patients in his long career? Who am I to think that I’m special? But I do want to thank him, even if he doesn’t know me. How do you tell someone thank you for helping you to live without sounding like an idiot?
All these thoughts and more were swirling about my brain as the worker I was standing with was talking to me. Suddenly I looked up and he was in front of me.
“Good morning. I’m sorry to interrupt, but I wondered if you could help me,” he said to the worker.
“Sure Dr. M, what can we do for you today?”
“Well, I need to send flowers to my wife, but before we do that, I must take a moment to say hello here,” he said as he turned to me.
He held out his hand and as our hands touched, he pulled me into a hug. “I’m so happy to see you looking so well,” he said to me. I was befuddled. I held onto him in an embrace as tears began gushing down my cheeks. The worker looked on, astounded by my reaction and not understanding the circumstance.
“How did you know it was me?”
“I knew it was you from across the room. That’s why I came over.”
“But how did you recognize me? I don’t look anything like that girl whom you treated.”
“But you do. You never stopped smiling. You always smiled, my only patient who always smiled even during chemo. I knew your smile.”
Shyly, I smiled at him, remembering back over the years when I was almost daily treated at his office.
“It’s been 7 years, can you believe it? I can’t believe it’s been so long.”
“I know, a long time, ” he said gently as he smiled down at me. I still held onto him. I couldn’t help it. Even now in telling you this story, I have tears rushing down my cheeks.
Turning to speak to the worker who continued to look amazed at the scene before her, I explained, “I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2001 and Dr. M was my oncologist. He healed me. My insurance changed and I had to leave him 7 years ago and I haven’t seen him since, but (as I turned to look at him) I’ve always kept you in my heart Dr. M. You gave me back my life and I won’t ever forget what you did for me, for my family.”
“This one, she gave me a run for my money. She kept me up at night trying to figure out how to heal her. She was a tough one to heal,” he said to the worker in explanation.
Looking down to me, “You see, I keep you in my heart too,” he said as he released me and patted his heart with his hand.
“I can never thank you enough,” I said honestly to him.
He smiled and replied, “You already have.”
The worker, sensing it was time to step in, broke the spell and asked him what he’d like to send and they began to talk. Before he walked away, he patted his heart and I patted mine in return. I knew that our connection, no matter how much time passed, would be there.
I dried my tears and began walking around the store again by myself, lost in my thoughts, astounded that he’d taken the initiative and sought to say hello to me. I was amazed that he remembered me, that he knew who I was even after all this time.
My heart felt so full in that moment. I truly don’t know if I can explain to you the gratitude which pours out from me as I write to you. But I know that moment was a keeper, a moment that I shall not forget. And as I went about the rest of my day, I realized that we never know whose hearts we touch for a lifetime. The kindness shown to a hurting soul is never ever forgotten and there are most certainly Angels here on Earth. I know, I’ve met them.