July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I recently had a conversation with a patient who could not believe he had been on dialysis for an entire year. He began to reminisce about his early days when he was newly diagnosed with end-stage renal disease, and the struggles he went through as he adjusted and adapted his lifestyle. While at first he felt as if time was never going to pass, he looks back now and reports that the year has flown by.

I began to recall my own past year. One year ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. In the beginning of a global pandemic. We had no idea what lay ahead; call us naive, but as every month passed we thought it would quickly end. By the time we decided to embrace the pandemic lifestyle, we were months into the global crisis. I look back now wondering how the year has flown by.

I began to wonder: Are we always so focused on an end result that we don’t stop and appreciate the little things? Was I so focused on getting through this pandemic; ridding myself of these masks; getting back to regular work and school life; and hugging people again, that I missed out on a year of life? After all, we were in survival mode, making sure we had enough toilet paper and all.

Was my patient so focused on getting a kidney transplant and ridding himself of this disease that he missed out on the little enjoyments of his past year?

We sat and pondered this together. We sat in silence for a few minutes as we thought deeply about the past year. He turned to me and said, “You know, I’ve accomplished a lot this year.” He began to list all the things he did in the past year, all while coping with a life-changing diagnosis.

When my patient left my office that day, I was left in the silence of my own thoughts. This was my third child. My third and possibly last. Born into a pandemic. We were trying to make it through. We were quarantining, home-schooling, washing every package that came into the home.

All I wanted was for my baby to have the same birth story as her siblings. The same experiences in her first year of life. And all I wanted was to have the same memories as I have had with my other children. So I kept trudging on in the hopes of an ending to the awful pandemic. I stayed focused on the next holiday where we may be able to be with family, the hope that school would reopen, and the next grouping of people to be able to get vaccinated. I look back a year later and think: Did I stop enough times and smell the roses?

As I closed the door of my office that day, I said to myself, It’s never too late to smell those roses. Go home and smell them!

Life is and should never be at a standstill. However, we must create that pause in our daily lives to really and truly appreciate what is in front of us. Whether we are in the middle of weathering a storm or we are smooth-sailing for the time being.

Like my patient, I realized I’ve accomplished a lot this year. My daughter did not have the same experiences as her siblings did—she has her own and I have my own. For this I am grateful. I look back and know I did my best to smell the roses, and I will keep doing so—this time with more intent.

Often society teaches us to chase our dreams and to keep striving for the next best thing. Yes, do this. Don’t stay stagnant. I am a true believer in the climb. But stop every so often and enjoy the day-to-day. Look at the world you are in with open eyes and open minds. Smell those roses before their season ends.


Rachel Salamon is a licensed clinical social worker in New York. She graduated from Columbia University with her MSW and went on to receive her clinical license. Rachel works as the lead renal social worker for a dialysis company in the Bronx. She also provides in-home mental health counseling to homebound older adults. Rachel currently resides in White Plains with her husband and three young children. To contact her, please email [email protected].

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