Home, Poetry, and HCAB Reflection

It’s the beginning of a new year! I’m excited for all this year will bring, especially when it comes to my growing involvement with both National Alzheimer’s Buddies and Harvard College Alzheimer's Buddies (HCAB).

Michigan is just as cold as Boston, but the comfort of family makes it that much more warm. Although I haven’t seen Nancy for some time, I have been keeping in touch with her family who I stay in touch with via email and Facebook. They are such sweet people, and they tell me that Nancy* is doing well.

A few weeks ago, I received a surprise package in the mail from Nancy’s family - it was a huge collection of poems by Pablo Neruda. Often times when I share or discuss poetry with Nancy, the family is there and take it in as well. Meanwhile, I also mentioned that I was looking for summer internships in a Spanish speaking country this year. So, they gave me the perfect present! Neruda is considered to be one of the greatest Spanish poets of all time hailing from Chile. His poems have multiple translations, and I eagerly delved into the poems. Below is one of the ones I really enjoyed reading! It's also very relevant to medicine and the importance of relationships. Moreover, I believe this poem can speak to so many because of the way it evokes empathy. 

Later, I wrote a holiday / thank you card to Nancy’s family. It was also the semesterly family letter - here, I detailed Nancy’s impact on me and why this relationship was so memorable and meaningful for me. This semester, my time in HCAB has by far been one of my most important experiences. I realize that the reason I wish to be involved in the medical field is because of the human interactions I aspire to have with patients and their family. Unique about this relationship, I have come to know Nancy’s family so well to understand where she comes from. In addition, spending time with Nancy and hearing about her past and present has showcased why I want to work with older adults. She often tells me of feeling forgotten, lonely, or just unnoticed during her time in the nursing home. Nancy told this to me without any pity or sorrow. Rather, she describes her feelings to me very nonchalantly. It saddens me to hear her detail her life in this way. Older adults are often unnoticed and forgotten. There is truth to how Nancy describes her time in the nursing home. That is one of a multitude of reasons why I hope to work with older adults. Ultimately, as I finished the letter, I understand that all that Nancy has taught me cannot be put into the space of the card. However, it showcases just a tiny bit of the knowledge and impact Nancy has imparted upon me.

2018  has began with a great start. With a thoughtful gift, necessary reflection, and solidification of future career aspirations.

*As always, name changed for privacy.

- Ellen Zhang

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