Purse Strings

I had a patient today that was so excited about her new purse.  She’d found it on an internet site.  She had to get a larger size because her husband has cancer now.  And a light bulb went off in my head.  “Oh yeah, the purse!”  I thought.  Was nothing in my life spared from the touch of cancer?  Apparently not.

You can march through stages of my life by looking at my purse.  I have always tended to carry only the essentials.  Are all those things really necessary?  What is essential?  That depends on the circumstances.

In college I’d carry some gum, hand lotion, a lipstick, maybe a brush.  That didn’t take too much room.

Then came babies.  Forget the purse- just get a huge diaper bag and put my essentials in with the baby’s essentials.  But, surprisingly enough, baby #2 had fewer essentials than baby #1.  Funny how that works.  One finds that a baby really can survive for 3 hours without all their favorite things. 

Then the kids went to school and Jeff and I both went to the same office- our office.  If we wanted something there, we’d just have it there.  No need to tote it back and forth every day.  I was lucky to get out the door with my driver’s license and a credit card tucked in my pocket.  Some days I forgot those items and had NOTHING with me.  A purse?  Whatever for?

Then came cancer.  Suddenly I became the intra-operative locker.  “Here, take my phone and my sunglasses.  Oh, and here’s my watch.  Um, my wallet is in my pants’ pocket. Grab that too, if you would.  Hang on to my chapstick so I’ll have it right away after surgery, OK?  Thanks.”  I got a big purse.  Sometimes I just carried around a duffle bag.  I had my own new essentials to add to the locker, also.  I needed Bible verses for encouragement.  I needed my phone to keep family updated.  I needed my ever-present notebook to keep track of information.

My purse no longer functions as the intra-operative locker.  But it’s still on the larger size.  I still need Bible verses.  The notebook- I got a different one and write different things in it now.  I write story ideas.  I write things that people say at church that are meaningful to me.  I write prayer requests down that I hear people mention.  My phone- its importance fluctuates.  Sometimes I’ll leave it sit all day while other days I might have it clutched in my hand.  I usually also have a book with me now.  When I have a few minutes with nothing else to do, I’ll grab that and read a bit.

Will I ever get back to just my credit card and driver’s license?  Probably not.  I kind of like my purse.

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