by Kim Spencer
Age 51. Riverside, CA
I used to be one of the solid ones – one of the people whose purpose was clearly defined and understood. My purpose was seeing patients and “saving lives”. I have melted into the in between spaces, though.
Now my purpose is simply to be the person whose head is above water, the person who can pick up the phone and give you 30 min in your time of crisis. I can give it to you today and again in a few days. I can listen to you as you listen to yourself and figure things out. I can travel to sit with you in between appointments and to explain your treatment. I can edit your letter. I can sit in the meeting and tell you what I think. I can listen to you complain about your co-worker. I can pass your complaint on to the people who have the power to make a change. I can read books that give words to our situation. Yours and mine.
I can listen to your dreams and stories about school without being distracted, and I can try to explain the world as I see it to your developing self. I can look through old photos and listen to you reminisce about the past, when you were young and living in an altogether different world. I can look you in the eye and give you a few dollars in the parking lot. I am not upset if you cry.
I am no longer drowning, so I can help keep you afloat with a little boost. Not all of the time, but every once in a while, until you find other people to help or different way to swim. It is no skin off my back; it is easy for me. If I can see you as a fellow human and accompany you for a little while, it is enough for me to feel like my day was a good one and I had purpose. At least for now, it is enough.