â€œI remember Kira. She saved my child when he was really sick.â€
Not a week goes by without someone saying this to me. Or, more and more often now, â€œShe helped me when I was sickâ€ â€” as years go by, more and more of her patients become the parents of my patients, and they remember, too.
Kira did nothing by halves. In the office sometimes until midnight, on call 24/7, treating each child as if her own. Starting her residency in 1977, at the age of 38, barely speaking English, finishing in 1980 as Chief Resident, having turned down an offer to become Director of Intensive Care to go into practice. What drove her? I think I know the answer.
After she died, it fell to us to choose her burial site. The only available site at Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn was on the edge of a large area, larger than a football field, covered with many small faded gravestones, closely spaced. The few inscription still visible date from the end of 19th century, listing birth and burial dates tragically close together.
My mother is buried in the old childrenâ€™s cemetery. She spent her life guarding children, that not a single new stone need appear in that field, and now, to the same purpose, she guards the field itself. The office, and the practice she built, continue. We grow, as children do, and learn, as children do, and use techniques and technologies proven best today, but we hope to always prove worthy of Kiraâ€™s legacy of care.
Kira Belilovsky, MD