910 Skokie Blvd., Suite 211 • Northbrook, IL 60062 • Phone: (847) 400-0100
Contact (847) 400-0100
Process of Change
Psychosocial Balancing Behaviors
Living in the Zone
The Meeting Place
The places where we are genuinely met and heard have great importance to us.
Being in them may remind us of our strength and our value in ways that many other places we may pass through do not.
My medical partner, who had never been ill a day in his life, died suddenly of a massive heart attack at fifty-six. He was a consummate healer and a magnificent friend and he left both his colleagues and his patients bereft. For weeks we numbly went through papers and made referrals for the many people who called in, many of them weeping. Finally, the last details were attended to and we settled down to a future without Hal.
Then the patients started coming. For almost a year afterwards, several times a week I would open the door of my office and find one of Hal's patients sitting in the common waiting room. At first I would worry that they didn't know about Hal and I would have to tell them, but they all knew. They had just come to the place where they had experienced his listening, his special way of seeing and valuing them, just to sit there for a bit, perhaps to think about difficult decisions which currently faced them. Many patients came. It was terribly, terribly moving. It made me angry with Hal for tending every life so impeccably except his own.
Another colleague, who is the head of the department of family medicine at one of the East Coast's outstanding medical schools, tells a story about one of his patients. The patient was a homeless woman whose possessions fit into two shopping carts. Once a month she would bring these up the steep hill to his clinic by lashing them alternately to the parking meters with a belt. First she would tie one, then wheel the other to the next meter uphill, tie it, go back for the first one, untie it and wheel it to the meter above the second until both she and the two carts were at the clinic’s front door.
He saw her once a month on a Wednesday. Her speech was sometimes rambling and her clothing was filthy and eccentric. This deeply kind and respectful man was not troubled by this. With his usual grave courtesy he welcomed her into his consulting room, listened to the details of her difficult life and did what he could to ease her burdens.
After he had been seeing her for some time, he became aware that she sometimes came to the hospital on days when he was not there. The clinic nurses were puzzled by this at first, as she seemed to know in some mysterious way that it was not her day to see the doctor. After talking with her, they determined that she simply wanted to go to his consultation room. Once there she did not go in, but would stand on the threshold and slowly and deliberately place her right foot inside the empty room and then withdraw it again and again. After a while she would be satisfied and go away again.
The places in which we are seen and heard are holy places. They remind us of our value as human beings. They give us the strength to go on. Eventually they may even help us to transform our pain into wisdom.
Kitchen Table Wisdom — Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
Integrative Therapies North Shore
910 Skokie Blvd., Suite 211 • Northbrook, IL 60062
Phone: (847) 400-0100