This post was written by Kathy Curtis, healing artist, Fort Wayne Dance Collective. The Healing Arts program is made possible in part by generosity through the Parkview Foundations and integrates literary, movement, music visual arts into patient care. Read more about Kathy’s word art initiative here.
Some days are just better than others. They seem to offer exactly what you need before you even know you need it.
My first impression of the patient in Room 22 was that she was tiny and lovely and had the most peaceful smile. Her son and daughter-in-law were there with her, and were equally gracious upon my unexpected arrival in the room. When I told them what I do with words and art, the son told me his mother would relate to that because she was a writer. She nodded with wide-eyed sweetness.
I love meeting other writers, so I asked what kind of writing she did. It turns out she doesn’t write anymore, but had published 56 books during her career. If there had been a heart monitor on me right then, I can’t imagine the hyped-up pattern it would have shown. What … 56 books?!
Calming myself, I began probing to see what word I might draw for her that would bring a positive element to her experience. The health episode that had brought her in to the hospital was still affecting her mind’s agility, so her family helped her find a word, and the word was ADVENTURE.
Not only had this unassuming woman written 56 books, she had also traveled the world. It was beautiful to watch her connect with her own words to tell me about her adventures. Having three children was right there at the top of her list, followed by the many cities and countries she had visited. Her son was very engaged in our conversation, and between the two of them, told one story after another of their most unusual lives. I almost felt like I was reading one of her novels, the stories were so rich.
I keep reminding myself that this story is supposed to be about the patient, but here’s the thing. I needed inspiration that day. As I walked from the Healing Arts office to the floor where I spent that morning, I said a little prayer about being placed where I was meant to be. I wasn’t thinking that it was about me, but it turned out, it was.
So once again I am reminded that we never know whether we are there for someone else, or they are there for us. And that a patient can be the exact medicine a healer needs. And that words matter, even when they are difficult to find in a mind that has lived through the best of adventures.
But mostly, that looking back on a life of adventure shows up on one’s face as peace. And that is something I think we all hope we’ll have.
© 2018 Kathy Curtis
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