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Ode to a Healer: Jerome Hobbs

hobbs_jerome_13_cc_09062013Rare are the true healers, doctors who are not only skilled in their craft, but generous with their attention.  Jerome  Hobbs was a  studied and skilled acupuncturist and naturopath; but it was his gentle manner,  easy laugh and abiding curiosity that made his patients well. I was blessed to be one of his long time patients seeing him at least monthly over ten years.  I can still close my eyes and hear the calming symphonies piped into the treatment rooms, feel the soft washed flannel gowns and the warmth of the infrared heat lamps. My memories of those healing hours are so vivid because it was one of the few spaces of my lifetime that I felt so fully attended. From the moment the door swung open, and his familiar smile accompanied by the question, “What should we work on today?” His attention was undivided and he listened deeply not only to the energetic pulses in my body, but equally  to the layers of story that held them,  as he placed needles or offered his strong hands in one of the bodywork therapies that were second nature to him.

I heard of his passing the other day as I lay on the table of my new acupuncturist. It seems impossible that this man, with whom I shared so many intimate moments,  could have departed without my even knowing, without a chance to say goodbye.  It was an odd intimacy that existed only within the treatment rooms of his old refurbished offices.  I remember the beginnings of the illness that took his life, in the shake of his hands and his failing memory of things that I knew he knew as well as his own name.  A temporary separation with the woman he loved as much as life itself sent him into a deep dive.  I loved this man and didn’t know how to help, or even how much to help. This is the odd thing about many healing relationships – how the boundaries we put around them allow us to get close, but also keep us apart.

The first thing I remembered when I heard of his death was the hundreds of times he used to tell me about all the many ways he was working to stay young- from the long bike rides he took on his off days to the range of Chinese herbs that he knew so much about. He was so youthful in so many ways, but perhaps most of all in his love of music. He participated in several marimba bands and was loved in the tightly knit group of zimfest music. I heard that people came from around the world to play at his service.

I am bereft at the brevity of this sweet life that we so often take for granted. I met Jerome at one of the lowest energy ebbs in my life and arrived in his office with my 4 babies in tow. His practice was a second home for me all the years that I regularly went and stripped my life away, turned off my phone and lay with him as he worked to raise and stabilize my life force.  I will always be grateful for the deep way that this very special healer held me, cared for me and shared with me the goodness that he brought to the world every day of his life.

Go well Jerome,  your music is playing on.