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A Piece of My Mind
March 7, 2012

The Before

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Theda Care, Neenah, Wisconsin (drjenfrank@gmail.com).

JAMA. 2012;307(9):921. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.200

This is the before. A moment suspended like a bubble floating on a warm summer breeze gently but inevitably toward the ground. I feel the pop coming, an implosion of the very center of your life. Anticipating what this moment would hold, I nevertheless hoped for something different. To be able to eagerly dial your number and shout out the good news to you in a breathless rush. It's not what we thought. It's not cancer.

Instead I take a deep breath, pressing each number slowly, cautiously, drawing out the moment before the burst. The burst of your plans and your dreams and your future. I stall for time, asking if this is a good time, are you alone, do you have a pen and paper? You set the phone down and I hear you call to your partner, herd the kids downstairs, step quickly back to the phone, and pick it up. “I’m ready.”

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