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The Things That Sustain Us

I got the most lovely email from a student last week. She told me how much she enjoyed my class, how she had a new found interest in the theatre, and that she appreciated my taking the time to ask about her life and other classes.

I remember how it started. More or less. At the beginning of the semester, back when the weather was nice, I used to sit outside and drink my coffee before class. This gave me a chance to say hello to the students as they walked into the playhouse, and more importantly, it gave me a chance to get to know their names.

One morning I asked this student how she was doing, and started talking to me about one of her science labs. She’s a pre-med major, so from then on I was super curious about the work she was doing.

I was curious for several reasons- number one, I love hearing about things I know nothing about. And number two, the past three years have given me a new found, um, appreciation? no, reverence? or maybe its more of a literal life dependence on science.

It fascinates me. So throughout the semester she would fill me in on her various experiments. Everything from genetics to mold growing on fruit to research on cancer itself. I would tell her about the science behind my new clinical trial and quickly admitted that most of it was over my head.


Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Jaimie is Jewish, emphasis on the “ish”, so after the sun set yesterday evening we read this prayer: “Thank you God for sustaining us, and bringing us to this occasion.”

Then we lit the first candle in the Menorah and I started making latkes.

I really love that prayer. I thought about it while I was in the kitchen grating onions and potatoes. I started thinking about all the ways I’ve been brought to this occasion. All the ways I’ve been sustained. From well timed checks from family and friends, to understanding jobs that let Jaimie and I make all my various appointments. To good doctors. A therapist who helps me make sense of everything. Helpful conversations. The gift of writing. People who read my writing. A new comfy couch from my parents.

And the science. For almost three years science has kept me alive. Science that requires research and testing and geniuses to make it all happen.

Geniuses like the student in my Intro to Theatre class.

So maybe she’ll go and see more plays as an adult.

Or maybe she’ll decide to focus on oncology, and discover that thing that cracks this whole thing while open.

Maybe she’ll help sustain a great many of us.

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