I got this amazing email the other day. Before I go into it, I'll need to go back three years. My memory is a little foggy because of a) early onset dementia and b) the sheer number of patients I see in a given day/week/month. I don't always remember details about each of them. Except for Raphael*. Beautiful Raphael. But that's another story for another day.
(*not his real name, of course)
I was doing a rotation at one of the free clinics on the west side of town. I must have had a patient that I saw more than once in that month and that I connected with more than just the normal amount. I remember her name but not why I saw her. I remember she had a brother with leukemia (he was about 22 years old) who was in the hospital. She mentioned to me that his favorite show was House, MD and that he watched it faithfully even while in the hospital. I happened to know people on that show, and I mentioned that to the patient. She couldn't wait to tell her brother. I spoke with my friends and got a signed cast photo, which I then mailed to my patient's brother. I never heard from her again, but I didn't think anything of it. I moved on to another rotation and that's life.
Until this past week, when I got an email from her:
"It has been almost three years since we have communicated. I'm not sure you remember me, but I remember you for the beautiful things you did for me and my brother. I once asked you if you can get me the signatures of your friends who are actors from the show "House". I never got a chance to thank you, but thank you. Unfortunately my brother passed away in October of 2007. We got the news that he was getting close about a year before which was when you mailed us the pictures. My brother loved them! But it has been tough. I hope you can remember me, and not think that I completely forgot about what a thoughtful thing you did.
Wow, did that cause me to pause. It made my day, of course, but it also made me think about all the little things we do every day that someone else doesn't look at as being so "little." The cards we send, the candy bar we give, the CD we make. Those little extra gestures that really make a big impact on someone else. So, this week, I am going to be uber aware of the extra mile I can go for others because just maybe it'll be something that sticks with them forever.