Taking Time to Breathe
I recently read the obituary of one of my esteemed colleagues. It listed all his certifications, achievements, awards and invaluable contributions to our field – symbols of his pioneering vision.
I thought to myself.
I hope he had time to take a step back, look at all his achievements and life journey with a smile.
I hope he took a walk in the rain. On a day so bleak and dreary, the rain-tipped leaves formed diamond crystals that sparkled.
I hope he felt the smile of a sun-kissed day.
I hope he took his children, if he had any, to the park, and watched them play to their hearts content.
I hope he had a day of rest where he read a funny story, or perhaps, told silly stories with his significant other.
I hope he exercised and took a walk on a crisp autumn day as the kaleidoscope of Fall leaves silently made contact with the earth.
I hope he had time to find his happy place, a place where the sun shines so brightly and people's smiles are warm and comforting. A place where the moon is so full of light that the whole earth glows.
I hope he practiced what he preached to his patients: taking the time for self-care and meditation. Allowing for moments of stillness and solitude as an antidote to the never-ending demands of life.
I hope he spent quality time with his family and loved ones. True quality time that was not interrupted with endless errands, housework that silently steals the precious hours alloted us each day.
I hope on tough days with deadlines or difficult conversations with patients and colleagues, he remembered that he was a man full of love and compassion and cared deeply. This was why those difficult days impacted him long after.
I hope he knew it was not a sign of weakness or failure but rather an inner strength to be commended. I hope he came home on those bleak days to knowing arms and hugs that comforted him.
I hope he knew that when opportunities, like doors, sometimes closed tightly in his face that those doors were being closed so the gates of freedom elsewhere could be opened.
I hope he realized that he was not indispensable at work. We can all be replaced in an instant, as unbelievable as that sounds. The truth of this is that the day we leave this earth, the only people who will truly feel the loss at the breakfast table, the footsteps that will never walk through the front door, the familiar scent of a cologne that remains long after you leave the room... is the family that you have.
I hope he had time to cherish them and I hope they cherished him too.
I hope he enjoyed his work.
I hope he worked with excitement and passion.
I hope his drive going to work was filled with ease and not dread.
If it wasn't, I hope he found a path that made him feel fulfilled. Perhaps he may have had to retrain or change directions career wise, take a sabbatical, travel the world, volunteer and serve the less privileged, take a mental health break, or even open a bakery!
I hope he had enjoyed living the life he was given.
I hope he found his happy place. It does not mean perfection, but perhaps a spot in between where you can succeed, smile and sing your happy song!
This article was authored by Ure Laura Mezu-Chukwu, MD, FACC, cardiac electrophysiologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She is the mother of four young children and is passionate about physician well-being, motherhood and maternity in medicine.