Sara Bybee ~
It’s 2:02 pm when my pager beeps. I pull it out and read: “Juan may have just passed. Going in now.”
As a social worker in the region’s only cancer specialty hospital, I provide emotional support for patients and their families–including talking about their wishes for end-of-life care.
Juan is a sixty-five-year-old Ecuadorian man with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I’ve known him for about a year. Polite and easy to talk to, he often listens to Spanish sermons as he walks through the halls, IV pole at his side.
Over the months, we’ve grown close. He’s told me about his life in Ecuador, his first job (delivering pizza) and how proud he is of his children. I’ve met his wife, Yolanda, and their daughters, Diana and Maria.
Recently, as Juan’s cancer progressed, he told me that if he stopped breathing, he didn’t want to be intubated or resuscitated.
About the artist:
About the artwork:
Ned Towle ~
Christmas Day 2012
This Christmas is different. My wife and I are spending the day alone, as our two children and four grandchildren came over yesterday for the big celebration.
It’s 10:00 in the morning. I have just completed a nine-mile run and am sitting on the living-room floor. My wife, Linda, is on the sofa with her computer.
I feel unusually tired; rather than take a shower, I want to climb into bed.
After all, I did just run nine miles, I tell myself.
My lungs are sore, but running for an hour and twenty-five minutes in thirty-six-degree weather seems a good reason for that. My right arm is numb and my right hand cold, but I reflect that, on my run, I wore a new Christmas gift jacket. That must have pinched the blood flow….
Karen Ross ~
The new parents,
have dark circles
under their eyes.
Instead of davening
with prayer shawl,
at each sunrise,
they are drowned
in diapers and breast milk.
Or maybe the drowning
in diapers and breast milk
is the prayer.
Their newborn was created in a lab,
with life cells engineered
by white-coated scientists.
The miracle baby is named
for the angel, Gabriel.
About the artist:
About the artwork:
Every day we pass by friends, acquaintances, classmates and strangers, and all of us are wearing smiles on our faces. For some, that reflects feelings of bliss, joy or contentment. For others, though, it can be a mask.
I often think about my pain and the smile I wear to mask it. Most days, I am have the ability to express my troubles and fight the uphill battle against chronic depression. I tell myself, “You can do it! Just go and talk it out with your therapist.”
At least I had the ability to express myself and fight the battle; Helen did not.
“What do you think?”
“How long does she have?”
…”We need you here.”
Amy Crawford-Faucher ~
There’s one thing about being a family doctor: After a while, almost every patient you see is a familiar face. This can be a blessing or a curse, but mostly it’s a blessing.
This morning I’m in my office, reviewing today’s patients with Julia, the medical student rotating in our office.
I’m especially looking forward to my 10:30 appointment. It’s the first checkup for a newborn girl named Ella. I’ve known her parents, Emily and Dave, since before they had their first daughter, Katie, now three. I think of them as one of “my” families.
Emily and Dave, in their late twenties, have been together since college. Emily works full-time in a management position. Everything about her is calm and unflappable. Her dark blue eyes, neat dark-brown hair and pleasant expression radiate quiet competence. She easily weathers the garden-variety worries and crises of career and child-rearing.