Just days before Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast I spoke in New Haven Connecticut; this is where I lived during my psychiatric residency at Yale from 1967- 1970.
I addressed a Nursing Leadership Forum looking at the future of healthcare, I followed a technology expert from Johns Hopkins who suggested that better nursing care and job satisfaction would come through the mastery of new technologies. When I spoke, I encouraged them not to exchange the holding of hands and touching of hearts for the ease of handheld computers and video cameras that allowed distant observation. The source of their greatest joy and satisfaction was what brought them into nursing, reaching out to patients to promote healing. A nurse’s connection with a patient has always represented the soul of medicine,
I spoke on a Friday afternoon, the Jewish Sabbath (shabbos), and told them a story about how I held my mother’s hand and sang to her on her deathbed. My mother was an observant woman, and one of the highlights of her week was lighting the Shabbos candles, Every Friday night when lighting the candles, she covered her eyes because she didn’t want to be blinded by the light that signaled the coming of the Messiah. Even when he didn’t come, she would always then put her hands on my head to bless me, and I felt her unconditional love. After I left home, I made it a habit to call her on Friday nights; for her if the Messiah didn’t arrive, my call might be the next best thing.
It was a cloudy Saturday as I strolled nostalgically through the streets of New Haven. I went back to Yale, and then to the apartments where we lived. Two of my daughters started school there, and where my third was born here. Our apartment was next to a park, and every Sunday we walked through it to get the New York Times at the drugstore. They’d get a sweet treat, and on the way home we’d sit under a ramada and look out over Long Island Sound while I recited the same poem.
That Saturday I walked through the park to the drugstore that no longer existed, but the ramada was still there. I sat and looked over the water, felt my girls at my side, and recited the poem. Tears trickled down my cheeks, a beam of sunlight pierced the clouds, and in that flash of light I felt my mothers hands bless me. The Messiah comes on shabbos and the message is always, love
This is the season of Thanksgiving Relatives, Thank you is the simplest, most heartfelt prayer I know. Say thank you for the love that’s been given to you, and spread it around.