Not terribly long ago, a woman came into my office for an appointment. This woman was not striking in any particular way. She was pleasant looking, neither beautiful nor unattractive. She was, as I would learn, far from wealthy but by no means without resources. She was not famous. As she shared with me, the closest she’d ever come to being famous was being prom queen runner-up in high school.
She was, actually, a woman indistinguishable from most any other woman who you might meet. I will call her Jane although that is not, of course, her real name.
As is my custom when I first meet a patient, I invited Jane into my office so that we could speak and I could get to know and understand her a little bit.
She nodded her head as she unconsciously twirled the simple gold band around her finger. “Yes.” She paused. “Twenty-seven years.”
I glanced down at the file on my desk. According to the information she’d provided, she was forty-eight years old. She’d married young.
“Three,” she said. “A boy and two girls.” Then she sighed. “Actually, a man and two young women,” she added, lowering her eyes as she considered her children’s ages. “My son is twenty-five — almost twenty-six. My two girls are twenty-two and nineteen.” She shook her head. “I can hardly believe it. How did I get to be the mother of a twenty-five year old?” she asked. “I still feel like I’m eighteen years old myself — most days,” she went on, punctuating her comment with a self-depreciating laugh.
I smiled. I liked Jane. She was personable. Open. Thoughtful.
She clasped her hands together on her lap. She was wearing an attractive, conservatively cut suit. Red. Not a bright, flashy red. A deep, rich red. I took note of this just as I always took note of how my patients dress when they come to see me. Often, it will be their dress — and even the color of their clothes — that will give me a clear insight into them.
Jane was wearing very simple jewelry. A wedding band. A solitary diamond on her other hand. A gold chain with a single pearl around her neck. Delicate pearl earrings. Her brown hair, only slightly highlighted by gray, was brushed in a gentle cascade across her forehead.
She was quick to smile — a bit anxiously it seemed to me.
“Isn’t that odd?” she asked. “A grown woman like me thinking she’s eighteen still?”
“I don’t think so,” I replied. “Not at all.”
“Not that eighteen was such a bed of roses, mind you,” she went on. Then she was quiet, thoughtful. She leaned toward me. “I want some of that back, doctor,” she said.