Daughter is on the examining table in Dr. K’s tiny office. She is naked except for her diaper, and is lounging like a baby Buddha. She is serene, watching Dr. K. intently. We have just weighed Daughter, and now Doctor K. is checking her hips for flexibility. Her hands are gentle. Finished the check, Dr. K. lets go of Daughter’s legs and says, “what a grace it would be if at the end of life, we could be as relaxed and trusting as we are in the beginning”.
I look at Dr. K., into the sparkling, youthful green eyes that contrast with her long, greying hair. I wonder how she feels about getting older. A lot of her patients are probably closer to the ends of their lives than the beginning. We always need doctors more towards the end. She must see them struggle and fight, as I have seen older family members do. I think about how different it would have been for them if they had been able to go through it as serenely as Daughter. Such serenity at the end of life has never seemed like a possibility. “Getting old is not for sissies”, an uncle once told me.
I think of myself, now in the middle of life and wonder what my walk to the end will look like. I hope I’m able to remember Dr. K.’s bit of wisdom.