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Our World Is Ruled By Love

loveTwo and a half years ago, I was sitting in the small waiting area outside the trauma bay of the Los Angeles County ER. My boyfriend had just been in a motorcycle accident, and I was there by myself, staring in a half-daze off into space, barely holding it together as I agonized over what was happening as doctors and nurses rushed around his hospital bed.

An older man saw me there and sat down next to me. He said something along the lines of, “Hey… you doing okay?” He chatted with me for a few minutes. It turns out his son had just been in a motorcycle accident, too, and had been airlifted to the emergency room. He asked me about my boyfriend and told me a bit about his son.

To be honest, my mind was a million miles away during this conversation, and I don’t even really remember the details of what was said. It felt like any word that came out of my mouth would devolve into tears, so I didn’t say too much. When he looked at me, concerned, and asked if I would like to go get dinner with him and his other son (“My treat,” he insisted), I brushed the invitation away. “I don’t think I should leave,” I said. “You know, in case the doctors have some news.”

I’ve thought about that moment about a million times. I was too preoccupied to show any appreciation at the time, but that man—a total stranger whose son was probably in worse condition than my boyfriend—cared about me and my wellbeing. He saw I was distraught and went to comfort me. It was dinnertime so he offered me food and company.

 Our world is ruled by love.

Later in the evening my boyfriend needed a CT and so was wheeled off to the scanner. It was hospital policy that I couldn’t go with him, so I asked the nurse about a million questions. “Where are you going? How long will it take? When will you be back? How will I know if something’s happened?”

Off he went and I found some windowsill in the corner of the hospital, put my head in my hands, and started sobbing. I was there maybe 45 minutes when the same nurse came up to me. I’m not even sure how she found me, and imagine she must have been searching around for a while.

She said there was a delay in my boyfriend getting his CT scan, and offered that I could come sit with him in the radiology waiting area (“It’s against the rules, but don’t worry about that”). She said she had been thinking about me—”I just figured you’d be down here worrying and upset, and your boyfriend wants you up there, too, so I came down to get you.” She said it casually, but the action was driven by compassion.

Our world is ruled by love.

Later in the night, at about 1am, my boyfriend was in surgery, and I was in the small waiting room on one of the upper floors of the hospital, outside the operating rooms. It was a waiting room I had walked by mindlessly 1000 times as a medical student (LA County is where I did my medical training), and now I was the one inside the room instead of walking by.

The only other person there was a young Mexican man whose uncle was having lung surgery for cancer. I picked up an old Oprah magazine sitting on one of the side tables, but my eyes couldn’t focus on it, so I just held it on my lap. The young man started chatting with me and asked me who I was waiting for.

He seemed to sense that even though I was trying to keep it together, I desperately needed reassurance. He started regaling me with stories of the amazing care his family members and friends had gotten at LA County (which I found especially endearing because I used to work there).

“These doctors are really good,” he insisted. “Your boyfriend is going to be fine.” For some reason, I asked him if he thought my boyfriend would be able to be discharged the next day. “Yeah, I’m sure of it!” he said. “They’re good here, he’ll be outta here in no time.”

Our world is ruled by love.

These are just a few stories from one night, and there are countless more acts of kindness I’ve experienced.

There was the time, in a brilliant move, I thought it would be a good idea to hold my oversized wallet in my tiny shorts pocket as I carried groceries from the market to my car (surprise surprise, the wallet fell out somewhere in the parking lot). I didn’t realize my mistake until an hour later, and anxiously rushed back to the market, expecting the wallet to be long gone. I went into the store and asked the first employee I came across if anyone had turned in a lost wallet. She went to a drawer and pulled my wallet out—”Is this it?”

Our world is ruled by love.

Even when there is hate, it’s not because there is a lack of love, but rather because there are obstacles to love being fully expressed. Sometimes we are afraid that our own needs won’t be met. Sometimes we forget that we are all interconnected, that my joy is your joy, and that my pain is your pain.

After all, when you see a beautiful sunset, it’s not just your joy, it’s ours. When I sit in traffic on the 405 (the infamous North-South freeway in Los Angeles), wanting to gouge my eyeballs out, all I have to do is look around at the other drivers to see it’s not just my pain, but our pain.

I’ve thought so many times about those strangers who reached out to me that day in the hospital, and how their kindness still touches me years later, even though I couldn’t express it at the time. So share love. Be kind. Receive kindness. We’re all in this together.

Our world is ruled by love.


Photo by epsos.de


  1. When the police came to my door one day…with my wallet they had found in the shopping center parking lot I didn’t even know was missing.

    When I made a girl call her mother from school to tell her about the straight A’s on her progress report…because she was used to getting the calls about skipping class or cussing out teachers. The call ends with the girl saying, “I love you too.”

    When a kid takes two lollipops from the bank, saying they’re for her little sister…and the dad remembers the older one doesn’t like lollipops.

    All a matter of where we choose to focus.

    I’m glad you wrote this, Doc. 🙂

    • My husband has been diagnosed with cancer 1 year ago and I realized something… not only dealing with your diagnosis, but dealing with the emotions and beliefs of other people about cancer can also be challenging. For example, those closest to you might worry about losing you. They may be concerned about how the changes in your life might affect them. It can be hard to deal with the fears of others while you are facing your own. Sometimes people are not sure what to say when they learn you have cancer. Even as they try to offer support, some might say or do things that hurt your feelings or offend you. Some people are uncomfortable thinking about the possibility of cancer in their own lives. Because of their own fears, they may not know the best way to help you with your illness. In this case it´s really useful to learn to speak up and let them know that you appreciate their concern. However, feel free to tell them if they aren’t helping you. If the comments of others concern you, talk with someone you trust about what has been said.

  2. Lovely – this reminds me that each one of us has the choice to be a ‘healer’ or a ‘harmer’ in stressful situations. And the healers usually outnumber the harmers, who, as you point out, are just not able to access that part of themselves in that moment. Dr. Karl Menninger says that loves heals -both those who receive it and those who give it. Thanks for reminding us.

  3. Love-lover says:

    Hello. I was very touched by your beautiful story, and wanted to reach out to you and give you a big hug. You’ re awesome, and everything is going to be fine – better than fine- fabulous. Keep your head up, kiddo. You are very loved. We can all see that.

  4. I just read your account of being diagnosed with cancer. I am an RN (recently retired from the Univ of Pennsylvania) . Since I am retirement age my risk for many cancers is increased. It is something I think about but don’t dwell on. One never knows how they will react with the news that you have gotten. Would i be stoic or crumble into a fetal position for the remainderof my days ?
    I applaud your determination and positive outlook. It certainly helps to have friends ( especially in the medical system) to help you and guide you. I’m pleased that things seem to be going in your favor (neg bone marrow and good WBC .
    I will keep cheering for you. Hoping treatment goes uneventfully so that you can continue your own important work. I will be reading your blog and routing for you all the way !!

  5. Hi,
    I just read your story of being diagnosed with cancer. I am praying for you and so moved by your determination to beat it quickly . I’m going through a tough time myself( for different reasons) and your journey and perseverance is inspiring.

  6. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will light a candle for you tonight.

  7. I’m so happy that I have discovered your blog. At a relatively young age of 50, I lost my husband unexpectedly one night. Several years later. I spent the last two years of my boyfriend’s life with him, supporting his struggle against the cancer that ultimately took his life at 53.

    What I learned through both of those experiences is that people really do just want the opportunity to be kind. From what I learned with my first experience, I tried to allow the kindnesses during the second, to allow friends and acquaintances to stop by my home or cut my grass or walk my dogs when I couldn’t get home…. All of them just wanted the opportunity to be kind. It was my honor to give them the opportunity that we often times don’t give when not faced with a crisis. I try to remember that lesson every day now.

    Again, thank you for your blog and your work.


  8. You are an inspiration…..I am so glad I found your website. I am praying for you!!! I do believe things happen to us for a reason….and your story has touched many lives….

    I will continue to pray for you and will follow your treatment and recovery!!!! Our world is definitely ruled by love but sadly some people have not experienced that love. I also believe it is important to pay it forward with love and kindness.


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