The news came on a typical busy Thursday. Interrupting the steady hum of checking retinal images, office procedures, and patient exams, a simple post-it note was handed to me with the news. Suddenly, it was like the world stopped. I knew she had not been feeling well, but losing her was like losing family.
I had known Frances for over 10 years and had nursed her aging eyes with monthly treatments for her macular degeneration. I knew where she grew up and what foods she liked. Her coffee order was a large Dunkin iced coffee with 4 Splenda and 3 half-and-halfs. I sometimes surprised her during her appointments by getting her a coffee.
Since the most common eye diseases occur in the aging population, eye doctors are essentially geriatric specialists. Despite the hustle and bustle of clinical practice, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many seniors. I’ve learned a lot from their grace and humility. When the inevitable time comes, it is really hard to say goodbye.
When I called Frances’ son to offer my condolences, I was floored when he told me that I was her favorite doctor. I told him, “nah, that’s just because I got her coffee.” He reassured me, “no, she said that way before you gave her coffee…”
Rest in peace, Frances.