The week before Lisa died I went to see my doctor twice. I was having anxiety attacks and needed some help sleeping. I’d seen him a couple of times annually for three or four years prior to my crisis, physicals, sinusitis. I think I was one of his younger patients.
I saw him on the Thursday before Lisa died about sleeplessness. I shared my story, let him know our family’s situation. I went back on the following Monday. He had no idea who I was. Not only had he forgotten my name, I had to refresh him on the fact that my young wife was dying, that I had three kids, that I was struggling emotionally. Needless to say, the following month, I switched to a new physician.
The new guy was younger than I. He was a swimmer, in incredible physical condition. He was also a great listener. He was as concerned about my mental condition, how I was handling the stress of my loss, as he was my physical ailments. He wasn’t herding cattle. He was genuinely interested in making a difference in the lives of his patients.
Two years later, I heard that he was facing the same diagnosis as Lisa. He had colon cancer, Stage IV.
He took time off from work and eventually left the practice. But he and I kept up. We periodically went to lunch to share war stories, particularly about our kids and the legacy we wanted to leave for them. I didn’t see him often, but in the little time we had, a bond was formed. I remember thinking to myself, don’t get too engaged, it will hurt worse when he’s gone. But there was something about this guy, an intensity – a fierce desire to figure life out, to make a difference.
And he did. My doctor not only changed lives in the office, but he was also instrumental in starting and growing a swim team for kids in a nearby neighborhood. I understand he coached the same way he practiced medicine with a thoughtful, caring, intensity. Encouraging, pushing, listening, meeting you where you were not where he wanted you to be.
Imagine knowing that you built something on this earth that will change lives for years and years into the future. Each person he poured in to, each kid he challenged, each patient he encouraged will take his legacy and spread it in their own unique way.
I’d like to think that we are all as conscientious about leaving what we touch better than we found it. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case. But there are a few, like Brian, who sincerely put others before themselves.
My goal: To be more like him.
If I meet my objective, the world will be a better place.