Human Exceptionalism

All You Need is Love

I just happened upon a good opinion piece by New York Times editor Dana Jennings. He is fighting prostate cancer with all of its difficulties and inconveniences–and through it all, his wife Deb has vividly exemplified why, as the Beatles so quaintly put it, all you need is love. From the column:

Right now, I’m not quite what you’d call “a catch.”… Even so, Deb has taught me that love is in the details. Humid professions of undying love and tear-stained sonnets are all well and good, but they can’t compete with the earthy love of Deb helping me change and drain my catheter pouches each day when I first came home from the hospital.

Yes, in the details. She measured my urine, peered into places I couldn’t (literally and figuratively), and strategically and liberally applied baby powder, ice and Aquaphor to my raw and aching body. She battled our intractable insurer, networked, tracked down the right doctors–and took thorough notes all the while.

I was wounded. She protected me. She chose to do these things.

But what about people who don’t have their own “Deb?” She can be there for them, too, if enough of us do our jobs. Deb was there in the care my friend Tom gave his great aunt,who he barely knew, as she neared her end. I have seen her in the selflessness of pro life couples who put their own lives where their mouths are by adopting developmentally disabled and at risk children. She is the hospice nurse making that extra house call to make sure her patient isn’t in pain. That hospital chaplain who recently lost a night’s sleep to hold my friend’s hand in the midst of a catastrophe, no doubt looked just like Deb. And weren’t those her tears the ICU nurses shed when they couldn’t save a life?

I guess what I am saying is that we all should, in ways big and small, be “Deb.” In that way when any of us need her, she will always be around.

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