Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

This has been one of those weeks.

Monday morning started out with a call from my neighbor and the announcement that one of my cats was dead. I went to the neighbor's lawn to retrieve her, and I couldn't help but feel like she was sleeping. On the one hand I hoped she'd jump up and greet me, and on the other, I knew I'd scream if she did. All the cliches, I thought, as I approached her.

I've lost many cats, of course, over the last ten years, but this was the first time I had to move the body myself. I knew I could have called Bill or Ish or one of the scores of Villagers who are willing to help me out no matter what, but I realized, as I debated the details, that this was an opportunity to be a big-girl-grown-up, so I was alone as I gingerly picked up my beautiful girl and laid her on the cardboard box top I'd enlisted to be her gurney. (For the curious about such things, I took her to the vet, who sent her off to be cremated.)

At work I had to deliver the news of her death to my friend because Blue had not always been my cat, and I had been charged with her care. The good part was that it appeared to be a natural passing, simple and elegant in its horribleness.

And the truth of my crazy life these days is that I don't have time to worry about any one thing for long, because before I knew it, I was zooming through amazing days of seeing patients, meeting with social workers about their caseloads, team meetings, writing notes, checking on people in the hospital, designing a tracking system for our billable hours, developing a flowchart for how we decide who gets what services, planning a training course, exploring the possibility of a textbook about ethics, keeping up with changes in the state system, and just the gazillion different pieces that go into my pull-me-in-fifty-different-directions job.

And then it stopped.

My whole being focused on an instant. It was as if I were living one of those scenes in the Matrix where the camera pans around a still figure, and the world slows down, and everything you know, everything you've learned, every cell in your body is en pointe to do one thing.

I sat across from the gentleman in the family session and felt the ultimate privilege of my job: to sit with people in their pain; to hear their stories; to witness the raw beauty that is the strength and resilience and will and power that people draw on to get through. It really is a rare experience for me to be so moved by a particular person or family that they linger so long in my thoughts, but it is these families that give me strength. Because that pool of strength that is there for them, is there for us too. We can give in to it, as I try to do when I sit across from someone, or we can pull from it, like I did when I walked across my neighbor's lawn.

Touching that energy, which I do fairly constantly these days, is an exhilarating thrill ride-- a buzzing hum that allows me to help the folks I work with, but also leaves me raw and exhausted at the end of the day.

If I'm looking not quite myself these days, bear with me. But I also invite you to join me on this electrifying journey. Humans are beautiful creatures, and together, we can truly do anything.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Jen, for sharing this experience. Your narrative comes to a sharply, focused point with "And then it stopped." mirroring the focus you describe so well in the paragraphs that precede those words. But I'm not thanking you for writing so well as much as thanking you for the reminder that nothing lasts and I must get as much as I can from each moment.