Saturday, March 8, 2014

A river runs through it.

the other day

There are these moments in medicine
that are awesome
No, not the "like totally" kind
but the kind that evokes
a real, true feeling
of wonder and magic


This is what I saw the other day:

A young student doctor
barely beyond the legal age
stared into the eyes of his patient
the one who was nearly a centurion.
This was a first for him, breaking bad news
or rather heavy news
to a real person
with a real life
hearing that real news
the kind of news that alters real plans

With hearing as sharp as her wit and cognition
his patient was aware
aware of what he said
aware of what he meant

Yes, she was

And so
he uttered that word that chills blood and stops tracks
He said it
and she heard it

This time she heard it 
and this time it sunk in

Those centurion eyes brimmed with tears
a lip began to quiver
"Are you afraid?"
She shook her head.
"Are you sad?"
She shook her head again.
"Are you okay?"
She closed her eyes and nodded.

Next, her eyes traveled off to some far away horizon
and finally she spoke words for her young doctor to hear.

"On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."

She then described her vision
of the other side
the tree of life
and the meaning of the same

And she didn't appear afraid
No, she did not

She squeezed his hand
and he squeezed hers, too
and then
the centurion petitioned her God
to guide that young doctor
to keep him humble

and filled with awe

And the whole time she kept his palm
in her trembling grasp
and, lucky for me, I was there for it all

Yes, I was

Her words felt like that river
her soul bearing us fruit
and leaves for the healing of the nations

I was there
I was there physically, mentally and spiritually
hearing it
feeling it
living it
getting it

And all of it was awesome
No, not in the "like totally" way 
but in the way that evokes a real, true feeling 
of wonder and magic

Which, for me, never gets old
and always feels new
especially when witnessing it 
through novice eyes 

I know
that in the books you find the knowledge
the guidelines, the rules, and the algorithms
you read them and you memorize them
and convince yourself that this is what it means
and that this is the experience 
that equates with 
becoming a doctor
that this is what serves 
as our metaphorical tree of medical life

But on this day
and everyday 
I now know more than ever
that a river runs through it
flowing with these moments
that can never, ever
be found in books

And still
after all this time
I am in awe

Still, I am.

Happy Saturday. 

This is Grady. And no, I don't make this stuff up. 

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . a song that always, always makes me cry--especially when sung by the matchless Mahalia Jackson. Just. . . .awesome.


  1. this is as real as things get and the essence of medicine, connecting on a higher level. thank you for this enlightning post!


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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