When I think of Laraine, a few things immediately come to mind: goodness, honesty, curiosity, and passion. The first two are quite self-evident to those of us who had the pleasure of knowing Laraine. There was never any doubt that her motivation was pure, just, and right for the world around her, whether it was for her patients, friends or community. She always had the interests of others at heart and in mind when she interacted with her patients, friends, and colleagues. And, she rarely left you wondering what she was thinking!
Laraine approached the world with an intriguing curiosity about what made people and things tick, why things happened, and why people behaved in the ways that they did. Of course I couldn’t explain many of these to her, and, in retrospect, took Laraine’s curiosity to be rhetorical way more often than it really was. She truly sought answers, or at least dialogue, but there were precious few things I could address on the spot. Many required some research and most required careful thought…and my trademark, “I’ll have to get back to you.” But that guaranteed a second interesting conversation. This is also what made Laraine an excellent physician. She was unhappy until she answered all of the questions… big and small…about her patients.
The fourth is a bit trickier. The first few times I experienced the passion, I was, well… a bit scared…until I recognized that the intensity was Laraine’s way of expressing the first three traits. Laraine would approach my door, knock, give that half-smile, and before I could blink would be sitting in the chair. Suddenly, there she was. The first few moments were consumed by my trying to sort out whether it was going to be a question, a concern, a confession, a funny thought, or something that defied all traditional categories. But before long it was always clear. Over time I realized that all of these were important to Laraine, expressed by the sometimes difficult-to-distinguish passion.
It’s still so hard to believe that all of those years blew by so quickly for all of us, and only the memories remain.
(Joel J. Reich, MD, FACEP)
March 7, 2007