Today is one of those days when I consider the purpose of adversity. Hardship can send us to our knees begging for pardon. It can also give us a crystalline focus on the abundance of the love that surrounds us. Fifteen years ago, we moved to Gainesville. We bought a house, we had a three month old son. We found a Santa Fe student to be our part-time nanny while I went to work part-time.

By either serendipity or providence, I heard about this practice looking for a new doctor. One of their senior partners was retiring. The woman who bequeathed to me her medical practice had a magnificent population of patients. By dubbing me an acceptable replacement, I walked into an amazing situation. Her patients could have migrated away, but something in her stamp of approval sealed me to her people. I have had the most amazing experience despite all the ups and downs of medical practice.

My circumstances could never compare to Kathy’s. See, the doctor for whom I assumed my practice was a paraplegic. She had an accident cycling years before; she was hit by a motorist and had a cervical spine fracture and spinal cord injury. For most, that would have been a career ending event. Not Kathy. She practiced from a wheelchair. If someone can practice medicine from a wheelchair….that is a pretty high bar to meet. I was determined to be worthy. After she retired, Kathy was more busy, active with the Sierra Club and the land conservancy movement in and around North Central Florida. I learned today that my mentor and benefactor has an aggressive, malignant brain tumor. She has, with characteristic aplomb and dignity, elected to claim the remainder of her life and not undergo treatment. It is a true testament of her fortitude and courage. Who among us could face such a thing with determination. It is easy to confuse taking treatment as “fighting” for you life, but Kathy proves once again that your life is the part that you own and LIVE.

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