My wife and I got into an argument last night. I slept on the couch. I hate that. I missed holding her close and breathing in the smell of her hair. I woke up this morning and it was clear there was still an awkward tension in the air. I kissed her on the cheek and told her I loved her. She grudgingly said it back.
I know what she wants. She wants me to be able to stay home. To really sit down and talk through all of our “issues”. I can’t. Time is not on my side and I must go to work.
I tiptoe into my son Milo’s room while he sleeps in his crib. He has the softest skin and he sucks his tiny thumb just like I had done. I kiss his forehead; I try not to wake him up. My heart was stolen the day he was born. I hope he remembers and misses me while I am away.
I should want to stay home and be with Milo. I should want to stay and talk with my wife. There is a part of me that knows this, and halfheartedly wants to want it.
I pretend this doesn’t get to me, all the things I “should” feel, do, and be. I almost believe it.
I click my seatbelt and drive into work. Rain on the road makes the asphalt reflect the bright city lights. I can’t help but feel at home when I pull up to the hospital in the dark early hours.
The automatic glass doors of the hospital part, and I step into another dimension. Not one where my mother is going through chemo, or my wife is less than satisfied with our marriage, and I see my son so infrequently. Not one where my depression cripples my confidence. I step out of MY world. I become what THEY need.
As I throw my white coat over my light green scrubs and lace up my sneakers… I become invisible to the human heart. I am a symbol of strength. I offer hope. I heal. Even though I am less than whole.
“Dr. Tiller, your patient is ready in pre-op.”
And I go. I heal. I listen, teach, explain, and reassure. I cut, plate, suture, and cast. I do not cry, stress, show my pain, or hurt. With my white coat I must be invincible, and invisible. I am the healer.
But who will heal me?