Monday, November 06, 2006

Betty Jo

We had a wonderful weekend, full of family, desert light, ghost towns, kids being kids, resting in the hotel room, and lots of driving. And – I haven’t mentioned this before – a spot (an underground river?) of grief.

I got an email over the weekend, letting me know that my beloved former therapist, Betty Jo, had passed away last week. This news made me so numb, I couldn’t even say anything about it to Terri for awhile. Interestingly, we were watching White Noise at the time, that movie about dead people trying to communicate through EVP. It got too scary and we had to turn it off, and then I was able to say something to Terri. And cry.

Betty Jo was an amazing, special person in my life. I feel selfish saying this, but I feel that I did not get enough time with her. The therapist-patient relationship is interesting to me – it’s such a deep, true relationship, and yet there are so many constraints, so I’m left not knowing exactly how to feel about how I feel. But the truth is, I loved her, and she meant a lot to me, and I wish I could have had more time with her.

I found her obituary online. These words particularly caught my heart: “…she lived her 61 years as a shining example of loving kindness and selfless generosity. Betty Jo would do all that was needed for those she loved, which was everyone she knew… She had an open mind that believed above all in the goodness in the hearts of all people. Betty Jo possessed a boundless positive outlook, and inspired everyone to embrace life with enthusiasm and joy.”

She was one of the only people I’ve ever met who I felt truly saw me, saw my potential, saw who I was and what I was trying to do in my life (better than I saw it myself). I’m still trying to work through the things we started together. I left our first session together feeling more optimistic than I had in months, or perhaps years. I felt like finally, finally! – I had found a place to figure myself out. I think I got to work with her for eight months before she had to leave her practice to focus on her health. I would still be her patient, if cancer hadn’t entered her life.

Such a loss, for myself and for everyone who knew her. I am still trying to process what this means to me. It will probably come through in fits and starts… and I’ll glean meaning as I can. Something I’m finding immediately is a strong desire to deepen my own spirituality. Which I always have, but something about her death has opened a door wider in myself, inviting me to come in, explore, find a spiritual home. I’m so conflicted in this area. But that’s another post.

Betty Jo, you are missed, deeply and sorely.

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