Living in the Now

What do you tell someone (you don’t know)
for fifteen minutes? It’s exciting, but mostly

it’s scary, when you’re not a good sharer.
I’m sweating! Should I talk about the parallel

pathways I’m walking in this life? And about
the dueling emotions somehow sharing space in

my days? These are trying times for patients,
for residents, for all of us. Meanwhile,

I’m grateful I’ve been able to be present in
my home. How much should I say about my spouse?

We’ve made it a year since the diagnosis. We may not
have another. Should I share the conversations

I have with my 16-year-old, about how the future
will tell the story of this time? How will we

look back? How do you live through history, in
the moment? I think I believed it before, but now

I’m living it more: the present. This very moment,
in all its glory and grief. Fully feeling all that is.

Knowing it’s ok; not wishing it away or resisting or
spending all my time wondering why life’s happened

this way. No. Because living happens in the now.
The now is all there is. So, how does a writer go

so deep into a story?
She goes deeper into the now.

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

This person was an internist, as well as the program director for residents at her institution. She told me she had been thinking a lot about what to share during this conversation. “It’s been a real journey, since I signed up for this. It’s not something I’d typically do,” she said. “I’ve been reflecting on the multiple pathways one walks in life.” She was learning to accept what life was bringing her, moment by moment. “About a year ago, my spouse was diagnosed with a terminal illness. The average survival time is one to two years. We’ve made it a year,” she said. She told me it had been a gift to be able to be present at home this year because of COVID. “But there are so many dueling emotions present in my life,” she said. “I’m learning to be okay with all the feelings. It’s okay to feel sad; okay to feel angry. I’m learning to live in the moment instead of always waiting for ‘something else to come next.” As we were closing the conversation, she mentioned it was her dream to draw and write, but she didn’t know how to get there.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Medical Educator
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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