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More Marie

I had another wonderful conversation with Marie this week, and with her permission, I'd like to share a bit of what she told me.

Marie said someone once asked her if she wrote a book, what it would be called. She said it was "Lessons I've Learned", and that she'd write it for her daughters. She told me this with a bit of a laugh, and quickly explained that she understood that she's probably never going to actually write the book. But since every time I see her, she speaks another chapter of that book, I feel a real temptation to be her "ghost writer" here on our community's blog.

Marie was telling me about how her relationships with each of her three daughters deepened and changed during her time in the hospital and in recovery this year. As she struggled to define that change, she told me about one daughter's comment that she saw her mother differently now that she watched her interact with the hospital staff.

"It's terrible to say," she told me, "but I used to be a bit of a snob. There was something about my experience in the hospital that changed all of that, though. I found myself so deeply grateful to the people who brought my meals or transported me to a test or changed my sheets. Those people did their jobs with such care and such love. One day, a woman was emptying my trash, and we got to chatting a bit. She was such a dear, dear person. I told her that I really appreciated the gentle spirit she brought into my room. And she just looked and me and said, 'No one has ever told me that before.'"

As Marie talked, I thought of my experience earlier in the week at the Columbia Time Bank orientation. In time banking, one hour of work is equal to another hour, whatever that work might be. That might seem like a generous gesture on the part of the administrators, or maybe a shortcut to make accounting easier. But Marie's story reminded me that it is often absolutely true. For her, the woman who emptied her trash at the hospital was as much a part of her healing as her time with the cardiologist.

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