It was my first Valentine’s Day with my true love, my husband-to-be. Unfortunately, we both had to work. He was the wedding pianist and entertainer atop a posh hotel. I was on call for twenty physicians and summoned to Sacred Heart Hospital to admit an elderly gentleman dying of end-stage heart disease. Gasping, clinging to life, he waited in queue. Nothing more could we do. His loving wife of fifty years, brokenhearted and numb, unable to bear the pain of watching him die, left his side to wander aimlessly through the cavernous halls.
So it was just the two of us on this Valentine’s Day. A blind date. No champagne. No romantic candlelit dinner. I was left to watch the love of her life die from heart failure while my husband-to-be celebrated the blossoming love of two newlyweds just a few blocks away. I could have escaped to the wedding party, but it didn’t seem right to let this guy die alone on this romantic day so I sat next to him in a cold, dimly-lit hospital room, held his hand, and cried. At that moment, a cardiologist draped in a white cape peaked in on us.
Startled by my overt emotion, he said, “You must be a new doctor,” then waltzed down the hall. I guess old doctors don’t cry.
That night we left the hospital in tears; His wife, a newlywidow; Me, a newlywed-to-be. I dragged myself to the wedding reception and entered as my husband-to-be sang the climactic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” As I looked up in my tear-soaked scrubs, suddenly a double rainbow graced the sky behind silhouettes of dancing and romancing couples.
It is when I dance with my darkest shadows, romance with my deepest fears and tragedies, that I embrace authenticity. Genuine and transparent, authenticity celebrates my intrinsic wisdom. It is self-honesty, fully present and alive, always trustworthy and effortlessly moral. Authenticity takes me over the rainbow. When I express my inner truths with an open heart and expose my wounds to the world I am simply — free to be.
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