People don’t write them much, anymore. Back before we were thrust into this electronic life, the letter was that exquisite stage of polite hopefulness that protectively preceded use of the telephone. Phone calls were so irrevocable; nothing exchanged could ever be retracted, reconstituted, or dismissed, so we never took them lightly. Writing allowed us to take our time, and say what we actually meant.
So, I’ll just send myself back in time a bit, and pour out my heart in silence. By the time you open this, it’ll be Christmas Eve, and nobody’s going to be reading blogs, anyway. As I write, most people would have been wrapping presents; but, with this year having become the disaster we’re still enduring, many might just be wrapping up finalized plans to eke out something they’ll call Christmas for the children in their lives. I’m childless, so I play aunt by mail for the holidays.
So, you won’t know it’s you. You won’t. I’ve had so many. Doctors. And, lately, after one particular kidney stone debacle, this could be any one of you. It’s a risk of exposure I’m willing to take. Comes with the rank, after all; in many circles, I qualify as a senior citizen now and, in the East at least, with age comes a certain entitlement. In short, if I ever thought I had anything to claim, now I have absolutely nothing to lose.
Yes. This letter is for you. Call it a thank you note gone wild. If you haven’t stopped reading already, you’ll see.
I probably already did. Thank you. But, there is so much more that can be and should be said, and then the part that most everyone else might omit.
Perhaps the covid pandemic is the informing driver but I am compelled, and so you must be told.
You must be told that what you provide is far more than that for which you trained. Just as I believe diagnostic ability to be a gift, I see that which you embody. Compassion possesses you; your countenance bears it. An inborn tolerance for the needs of the other to express, to disclose, to carry on, to exhaust each option. A recognition that to be heard is first, and all. This is who you are.
I’ve been taken by every Machiavelli that ever crept out from under a rock. Gender unspecific. I’ve also known emotional tyrants, a couple of these from within my kin. Being totally open has its points, but successfully protecting self is not one of them. When one subjects oneself to another, on any level, the degree of confidence required is enormous; with a doctor, one’s very life is laid on their altar.
This pandemic has called from every physician every ounce of willingness to shed self. Whether treating infected patients directly, or practicing in tandem with those who do, you have reminded each of us daily, sometimes hourly, just how vital your commitment to protecting our lives is in each one of them.
I spent the last nearly four years at very close range with a registered nurse. In so doing, I learned the scene of the medical professional, nearly first hand. But, that time spent produced a certain discernment. Not every health care worker actually cares. Not every trained professional either listens or hears. And when, suddenly, every life potentially hangs in the balance, that distinction looms large.
Thankfully, though in the grand scheme comparatively brief, your encounter with me was redemptive. Without either knowing or intending, you provided. You didn’t just fulfill a requirement; you met a need. And, while that need was neither emergent nor critical, your role was essential. You represented yourself, authentically. In so doing, you earned that which I no longer give freely, least of all to any doctor: my trust.
I thank you, ever so much, to accept it.
Thus endeth the letter.
In utmost sincerity,
© 12/24/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author. Thanks.