Seeing It

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Alice

They don’t see it. They just don’t see it and you can’t be mad at them for that because there was a time that you didn’t see it either. I bit back a sigh of frustration and gathered the Valentine’s Day cards that were carelessly discarded on the side table.

      I remember in elementary school we used to hand out valentines. It was exciting, passing out those little personal notes as we overdosed on the chalky, tasteless heart candies. It was a happy memory and maybe the last time Valentine’s Day had any impact on me whatsoever.

       I hadn’t thought of that in years. The memory popped in my head as I watched my client painfully and with great determination sign all the cards that she personally hand-picked for her loved ones. She and my co-worker braved the cold and made a trip to the store the day before; a difficult feat that took most of the afternoon.

       I marveled at her single-minded focus as she carefully wrote each personal note with her one good hand, insisting on doing it herself. It took her forty five minutes. The amount of effort she was willing to put in to show such simple gestures of love and appreciation was so beautiful.

          I saw a quick flash of disappointment in her eyes that was quickly replaced by sad acceptance and a resigned smile as the cards were opened, glanced over and tossed on the table in a matter of seconds. They didn’t see the effort it took or the thought that went into those cards. They didn’t pause to think about the toll it took for her to go out in the freezing weather. Most don’t stop and ponder such things. I didn’t ponder such things.

       It is through caregiving that I have developed another set of eyes; one that sees beneath the obvious, beneath the current circumstance or diagnosis to the person underneath. This new set of eyes reminds me in a million different ways not to take my life for granted and to appreciate the moments that matter. This has been a simple by-product of working in the field. It’s our greatest asset, the ability to see. The world at large doesn’t see, but WE do. It’s up to us to show through our actions what we know. I carefully arranged all of the Valentines cards on the refrigerator so she will know that as long as I am there her efforts will always be noticed.

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