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A Piece of My Mind
January 16, 2002

The Body Politic

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2002;287(3):286. doi:10.1001/jama.287.3.286

I will always remember the day I heard the news. I was at home when the telephone rang. At first, I felt as though I was having an out-of-body experience, looking at myself from above, hearing the voice of the caller echoed from a distant planet, telling me everything had changed. It was a surreal moment of shock and disorientation. As the caller spoke, my eyes became fixated for a while on the photograph, on my desk, of my two daughters who had just turned 1 and 3. Their joyful, silly, beautiful expressions were suddenly so painful to look at. What would happen to them? I noticed my long "to-do list" for that day, my full calendar. I have been a slave, I thought. Most of the life I have "scheduled" for myself seemed so inconsequential. In the midst of my panic, I felt a surprising relief and freedom, at not "having" to do anything anymore, at least for a while. Strange way to take a break.