I sit across from my sixty-year-old patient, whom I know to be a sprightly woman, although she is now busy scanning the floor with her eyes.
I place my hand over her interlaced fingers. “What’s the matter?” I ask.
She forces a smile through pursed lips.
“Did the surgery go well?” I continue in my effort to coax words out of her.
“Surgery was fine,” she says, looking past my face, her eyes now fixated on the wall. “But I don’t feel well.”
I feel a feeble tremor in her hands and respond with a slight squeeze.
“Tell me more,” I try again.
“You know what the most disturbing part of open-heart surgery is?” she asks, her gaze darting to my eyes this time.
I fumble in vain for the right reply.
“The thought of your bare heart in someone else’s hands,” she answers herself.
I am visibly surprised, perhaps even a bit shaken.
“Life’s a relay race after all, isn’t it?” she chuckles, as if to assuage the muddled expression on my face.
I merely smile and nod, in silence.
Her observation settles into me, sends forth ripples…
Life’s a relay race…
From the hands that receive you as you enter this life, to the hands that pronounce you dead, you encounter many hands–some that may touch your heart, some that may tear it apart. Each of us a baton, passed from hands to hands…