Friday, September 5, 2008


When my father died 6 years ago I was given an amazing gift. This gift was seeing people in my life emerge from the mists of the past to stand behind me, around me. It was like a great circle of arms holding me up. From junior high social studies teachers, to former roommates I'd lost touch with, to nearly unknown classmates--I received food, mix tapes, wine, money, hugs, cards, laughter. My childhood friend arrived on the next available flight. And even though this time was difficult, disorienting, and was also joyful. Joyful because I was able to see how many people cared about me in a time when loneliness would have been treachery. I was stunned and humbled by the love that came my way. And though after it was over many retreated to the background again, I am comforted to know they are there. A silent army of support.

These last few weeks have shown me that network still remains rooted in the soil beneath me. On the days leading up to and after the MCAT* I received many phone calls, emails, and visits. I was contacted by friends, strangers, bloggers, and family members, stretching from the western Arctic to the eastern Arctic, through the US, down to Australia.

People have busy lives, worries, and children...dogs, jobs, and stressors of their own yet many contacted me to say things like, "oh, on the day of your mcat I shut the door to my office at 2 o'clock and just sent you thoughts of peace and clarity for 10 minutes".

Truly amazing. It worked.

The exam was long, and challenging. And if you know me, you know I have terrible test anxiety. I used to get nose bleeds during physics exams and once completely blanked on a chem midterm (forcing me to hand in an empty exam). But on the day of the most important exam of my life (to date) I was calm, cool, and collected. No PVC's, no diaphoresis, no memory blackouts. I answered the questions I could, guessed on the ones that I couldn't. Smoked the essay component. And stayed calm.

So again in a very difficult, stressful time in my life I have been astounded by the thoughtfulness of the people near and far from me, even ones who don't know my name sending me well wishes. My little nephews keep asking, "Auntie, when do you find out your GPO?"--not sure where they get the "O" from but it is still cute. If I heard "I am SO proud of you" once, I heard it a dozen times.

It will still be weeks until I find out my grades and how my shot at medicine is starting to shape up. But really, honestly if I flopped it, that will be okay...I was given something separate from grades and admission offers. At the end of this long and arduous road I've been on I was given the opportunity to see that though often these days I feel alone...I am not. And blessings...I have many.

It has been a difficult time, most definitely. The day after the exam I was on the couch staring at the wall for hours wondering where the last year and a half had gone and what I had to show for it. Has this all been worth it? Is medicine really what I want? What are the things I value in my life?

It's a work in progress. Hoping some of that fine Himalayan air will give me some insight.

*(There is one very non-incriminating photo of the post MCAT celebrations on ohtanninbound. Yes there was a wee celebration that night.)


Rogue Medic said...

It is great to have that support network, but do not connect being alone with being lonely. Sorry to hear about your father. It is difficult to lose any family member, and at a young age. You seem to get stronger with all of the adversity in your life.

Albinoblackbear said...

I think I've had a pretty charmed life thus far...compared to most my adversity would be minor. But speaking to that I think Kahlil Gibran found the most succinct way to look at life's ups and downs;

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain."

I am a firm believer in that. I try not to begrudge my sorrows.