Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Ache




Time is a fickle thing. 

For years, it seemed like time was never moving fast enough, I was always waiting to grow up, to finish school, to start life.  I remember specifically during the first year of medical school thinking how terribly long four years seemed.

And now that it’s coming to an end, I feel as though there isn’t enough time left.  I’ve already begun to feel nostalgia for this place and these people. I already miss it.  It’s as though just because there is an end in sight, my heart has decided to hold on tighter.  It is protesting the upcoming pain by feeling it even sooner.  Pretty stupid plan, eh heart?

Earlier in this year, a friend and I were parting ways for a couple of months and we didn’t get a chance to hang out before leaving for away rotations.  Half-kidding, I said to him, “you didn’t even say goodbye.”

He replied with “that’s a ridiculous thing to say”.

I replied with “I’m a ridiculous person.”

He agreed.

But here’s the thing: I’m not a ridiculous person.  I don’t apologize for feeling nostalgic and for dreading the day that I am going to say goodbye to all of the people in my med school class, because over the past four years I have come to know them and appreciate them and treasure them.

There are people in school that I don’t get along with - some who make me uncomfortable simply by their presence.  Oddly enough, I will be genuinely sad to see many of them for the last time too.  They may not like me or vice versa, but they have still played a role in this incredible journey and have been a part of the big picture. 

It’s more than that though… I’m not really sure how to explain it. It’s just that… they are people.  I might have engendered confusion when I used I implied that I don’t like them… because I do.  Even if I don’t.  There are people who make me crazy, make me angry, make me cry or make me uncomfortable… but they are people. 

People aren’t straightforward – everyone has things about them that are inherently likeable or even loveable.  The nervous smile after a compliment.  The things that only they find funny.  The things they are passionate about. The way their voice softens when they talk to someone they really care about. The way their face lights up when they tell a joke that makes the whole room laugh.  The concern in their voice when they talk about a patient. 

These are the things I fall in love with.  I notice these things and for some reason it endears that person to my heart.  Even if they are completely mean to me.  I can’t help it.

It doesn’t take much insight to realize that if this is how I feel about the people I don’t like, how much more intense must my feelings be for the friends that I love. 

The friends that I have now mean the world to me.  They are far more than just the people I happened to suffer through anatomy and organ systems with… They are who I look forward to telling when my mom does something silly, or who I know can make me laugh when it has been a long week and I just want to have some fun.  They are funny and smart and compassionate.  They are there when I feel like things couldn’t suck more.  They are courageous and brave and just everything that I wish I could be.

They are the only possible reason why Toledo feels like home.

I love them so dearly.

I realize that I have used the word love quite a bit.  And for the record, no, I’m not using it lightly.  I develop very real and intense feelings for the people in my life.  I hope that it is part of what makes me a worthwhile friend.  I do what I can to show these people I care (where appropriate) and tell them as often as I can how much they mean to me. 

Seriously, if anyone intercepted a text-message conversation between me and my best friend (and they happened to luck out that it was one of our sane moments and not a discussion of exoskeletons, glitter, arson- hypothetical… obviously! or eyebrows) they would think that we were actually in love with each other because I tell her so often how amazing she is and how lucky I am to have her… this is getting off point.

So where were we…

I don’t make apologies for the intense attachments I form, even when people may not have the same level of feeling for me.  I would rather feel too strongly for the people that I have than not have anyone that I care about.

When I stop and I think about each of these people – all their quirks and idiosyncrasies, what they mean to me, and how much they have changed me…I know I am so lucky to have them.  I wouldn’t trade this understanding for anything, but I do dread where it leads.

In just a few short months I am saying goodbye to many of these people.  I said goodbye to several when last year’s class graduated and moved on and I know the ache all too well. Caring so deeply for so many people leaves me open to a lot of pain. 

It’s going to hurt.  A lot.

I know that it has to happen, because everyone that I know now is going to go forward and do great things with their lives.  From the people I know now, there will someday be famous surgeons, world class sports medicine doctors, great neurologists, passionate pediatricians… I have no doubt because I know how awesome they are.  The world will be a better place because of them, so I know that we have to say goodbye and it has to hurt. 

But the point is, it’s not going to hurt because I’m ridiculous or because I feel too much, but simply because I have had the joy of getting to know some truly wonderful people over the past four years.  They are imprinted in my mind and, practical or not, in my heart. 

It’s going to hurt like hell.

It’s going to hurt because it mattered. 

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