Monday, October 15, 2012

An Empathetic Couple

On Saturday (10/6), after I co-officiated Heather and Brian’s wedding with my good friend, Father Milt Raybould, in Carrollton, Texas, we raced down to the Barr Mansion in Austin, Texas to co-officiate Olive and Guillermo’s wedding. Here are the remarks I shared with this physician couple and their guests:

A few days after my second of four meetings with Olive and Guillermo, I was watching a podcast of a lecture by Alain de Botton, and it was as if he was speaking to my thoughts about this fascinating couple.

I don't know about you, but one of the things I look for in a physician, beyond capability, obviously, is empathy. I don't think I am alone in that sense. You see, De Botton reminds us that while we live in the West, in what we perceive as perfect meritocratic societies, we are still far from the ideal. There is still so much in our lives that is the result of luck, be it lucky genes, lucky circumstance of birth, luck of people we interact with. So, when we go to the doctor, we want our doctor to tell us we need to lose some of that weight, but to understand how hard it is too. We want our internist to explain our treatment options, and also understand that we might need to wait a few months to save up for the deductible, because our insurance policy has gotten even more sucky, than the last one we had. We want our pediatrician to explain the 12,000th time why that vaccination is safe and necessary, which we know already, but are still just a little freaked out about, because it is our child we are talking about here.

Now, what so struck me about Olive and Guillermo, is that even though I have never interacted with them in a professional medical capacity, I know I would be totally comfortable doing so. Their success due to perseverance and hard work, has not caused them to be judgmental about others. If anything, it has caused them to be so much more accepting and compassionate. You see this in how they describe growing up. You see this in how they describe the circuitous route of their professional education and experience. You see this in how they reflect on their love story, on their learning from each other, and in how they live their life together as a couple. For that, for this important lesson they embody, we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

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