Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Tribute to My Partner

My partner Mark is an amazing man.

He has opened his heart to my (many) children and loves them. On our very first date, I told him that I have ten children. He could have politely finished the meal and left. He didn't.

Though he never had children of his own, Mark has welcomed the children into his heart, and they in turn have responded with love and affection for him. Even to those of my children who have distanced themselves from me, he has offered love, concern and compassion.

During the difficult months leading up to and following my divorce, he was a constant source of support and strength for me.

But these are only some of the reasons why he is amazing.

Aside from being a wonderful partner and father, he is an athlete, a gardener, a painter, a writer, a dog-lover, a good friend, and a man who seeks to be compassionate toward all with whom he comes in contact.

But beyond all of this, Mark is an emergency room physician and a hospice care doctor. For 30 years, he has cared for trauma patients. I assumed that this is what ER physicians do, that and take care of critically ill people.

Since being with Mark, however, I have learned that many of the patients that ER physicians see are not really sick at all. They are there when they should be seeing their regular physician. They are there when they don't need to be. They are there seeking narcotics. I was stunned to learn of the number of people who go from one emergency room to the next, several times a month, seeking narcotics for "chronic pain." Mark is someone who cares deeply about healing and about suffering. His ER work is therefore sometimes very disappointing and disheartening.

That is one reason that Mark has also taken on a "second career" as a hospice doctor. In this capacity, he visits terminally ill people all over the Salt Lake Valley. He sees to their medical needs, of course, but he also brings peace and compassion to these people. Sometimes, the cases he handles are heart-breaking, particularly when they involve children. But he makes a difference in the lives of these people as they prepare to leave their bodies behind and continue on.

For all of these reasons, I love Mark, as do others.

But Mark is more than all of this. He is a man who probes the meaning of life, who is a spiritual seeker, who is a pilgrim on the road to enlightenment. In this, he is an inspiration to me and to others.

And so I want to pay tribute to this wonderful man with whom I have the privilege of sharing my life and my heart. Thank you, Mark, for all you do, all you share, all you give, for who you are. I love you.

Since I originally wrote this post, Mark has been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and has retired from emergency medicine. Despite all the tears and anxiety which that diagnosis brought into our lives, it has also served to deepen and sweeten the love that we share. It has taken me to places of the heart and soul that I never knew existed. I cherish every day that I spend with Mark and love him more than ever.

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