This has been a hard year. Through a 13-inch computer screen, unstable internet, blue hospital-issued masks, and uncomfortable plastic face shields, we were tasked with learning how to connect with patients and understand their stories, ironic given we were struggling to connect even with friends we knew well.

Just as COVID restrictions were beginning to lift, my community partner sat across from me outside the hospital, still distanced but vaccinated and mask-less, a first. We talked for hours, grateful for connection after a year of disconnection. He jumped between times in his life, telling stories of the old tobacco town he grew up in, the students who lived in the dorm he oversaw, and the friends who along the way became family. Caught up in these stories, he barely mentioned his double hip replacement as the conversation was near the end. It seemed as though this detail of his life he had almost forgotten. I left that conversation thinking that his life is, as most lives are, really just a collection of connections.

This piece, “Connections,” is a reflection on our conversation that day.

About the Artist: Margaret Weber

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and attended Middlebury College where I studied Molecular Biology and Studio Art, taking classes in printmaking, ceramics, painting, and drawing. I worked for two years as a researcher and now am a first-year medical student in the MD-PhD program at Duke. Outside of school, I spend my time hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, painting by the Eno, or playing with my puppy, Monty!