A Harp, ‘Moon River’ and Me

A Harp, ‘Moon River’ and Me
I tend to live in my head, to lean into my intellect. “What does that mean?” my husband asked when I described it. So I rephrased it and told him, “I’m more of a thinker than a feeler.” He looked confused. “In painful situations, I think my way out instead of feel my way out," I explained. “Oh,” he said. I knew he was trying to decipher my “corporate talk,” as he calls it. Sometimes I sound like a corporate press release. It’s hard for me to bring painful emotions into the light and thaw them out. So, I was happy that on the day of my six-month cancer checkup at San Francisco's UCSF Hospital last week — when I was so fearful of hearing a death sentence — my head was warming up that block of emotional ice just enough to let me feel what I needed to feel. I got to the hospital early that day, so I could go to the meditation room before my appointment. Passing the front desk and gift shop, I headed for the familiar church-like doors to that quiet space. But on my way, I heard a few notes from a harp. Was it piped in? I wondered. Muzak? Or a real live artist? Sometimes hospitals do that. They bring in talented musicians and let them calm the frayed nerves of people who are there because of some life-changing event. The harp reminded me of Stanford, where during chemo I was serenaded by many gifted musicians. But back then, just as I started to enjoy the music, Benadryl would kick in and I’d fall into a drug-induced slumber. I always asked my husband what I missed, but he confessed that as soon as I was out, he raced to the cafeteria for frozen yogurt before they put the toppings away. I guess it was his own ritual to get though chemo. Looking for a harpist, I peeped around the corner and saw a gray-haired lady behind an unwiel
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  1. Alison Kaufman Rease says:

    I was so touched by your article, Nancy. I, too, am much more of a logical thinker than one who acts on emotion, as a retired teacher. Last year was “a touch of breast cancer,” fortunately caught very early so radiation followed the lumpectomy. At the hospital there were two guitarists who gave a calming glow to the experience and I’m forever grateful for them, and now, for your insightful comments. For me, it’s been a shock, but dealt with thanks to the help of friends who cared, a son who is a doctor and called twice a day just to chat for a few minutes and the garden, to whom, when no one was listening one morning I actually said out loud, “I’ll miss you.” Silly, huh? Using your head is the smartest way to go. Lots of research on good websites and a few treats for myself like sending for organic wonderful soaps from Purple Prairie’s website. I hope you are well! Fondly, Alison

  2. Nancy Brier says:

    Using our heads while having full access to our hearts is the perfect balance, with cancer or any of life’s other challenges. Thanks for your kind comments and for sharing your story, Alison. I hope you enjoy a long, beautiful path to a full recovery.

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