This is a lesson learned from the beautiful therapy dogs who have shared their lives with me and so many others...Casey, Penny, Gracie and now Kelsie. They can listen. They can tell by your tone of voice what you are telling them. They can tell by your face, the inflections, the emotion. They comprehend and understand, and they never say a word. Countless patients we visit, struggling to overcome insurmountable illnesses, need to talk to be heard. Time may be short and no one is listening. People feel obliged to talk and then talk some more, losing the opportunity to let that person become 'real'. This doesn't help. This hinders. For it is only in our listening that we learn, that we find out the truth, the pain, the love, the loneliness, the fear, the emptiness of those we share our time with.
Remember being a little child, swimming for the first time. "Mommy look, Mommy look, I am swimming." Did you nod approval and turn away and continue a conversation with someone else? Or did you listen with pride and enthusiasm at what you were being told? Were you present? Did you tell your child that he/she was important and that they were 'real'.