As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow.
-A. C. Benson
From "Forever Ours," by by Janis Amatuzio, MD:
What happened next I cannot explain, except to say that while it was not one of my most professional moments, it was perhaps one of my most honest. As I looked at my patient's kind but worried eyes, at the slight pallor of his skin, I couldn't help but feel tears well up in my eyes. I fought them back and looked down.
"What's wrong, Doctor?" he gently asked.
"You have lung cancer, Mr. Larson, and I am so sorry," I responded. Then, with no further thought, the tears rolled my cheeks and I put my hands to my face. I could not stop them, and I felt terribly embarrassed. The next thing I knew, and much to my surprise, I felt Mr. Larson's arm around my shoulders as he moved over and sat next to me on the bed. I looked over at him and noticed tears streaming down his face as well. I put my arm around his shoulders, too. There we sat. The doctor and the patient. And we wept.
Then Mr. Larson, in his calm and knowing way, began to comfort me with his words. "You know, Janis, I suspected something was wrong..I just knew it. And it's okay. I'm okay."
"Mr. Larson, you don't understand. You're not okay. This is a big tumor."
He stopped me. "Dr. Amatuzio, I don't think you understand, so listen to me now.I'm not going to have any more tests or treatment. I'm going home. I feel more alive now that I ever have. I am so aware of all the love the surrounds me. I have a lovely wife-she is my best friend and has been my closest companion over the many years we've been together, and I miss her."
With a twinkle in his eye, and patting his stomach, he added, "And she is a marvelous cook. I love sitting in my big rocking chair at home, and I love lying next to her in bed and holding her tight. I am going to enjoy my children and grandchildren and friends for as long as I can. And.it's fall, and I love the smell of the earth, harvesting my crops, and walking my fields."
I profoundly felt that in this moment. I was the student in the presence of great wisdom, clear and focused by the day's unfolding events-wisdom that I dearly needed.
Mr. Larson made plans to leave the next morning and continue his care at home. I realize now that I did not have the experience to distinguish the enormous difference between giving up and letting go. The first seems to come from despair, the second from acceptance and the wisdom gleaned from thoughtful living and deliberate awareness.