Monday, September 18, 2006

Life goes on

Although it sometimes feels like there is no world outside of the medical school and no reality beyond mine, the rest of the universe occasionally intrudes. This weekend was a prime example (if not somewhat hyperbolic in terms proportion). Last week I was the image of self-centered, not in a self-important kind of way, but in such a state that I could think of no one but myself and focused almost exclusively on my exam. I had only a vague idea of what day of the week it was (though I have to say that the switch to whenever-it-falls exams from weekends-only has seriously messed up my perception of time). I did only what was written in my planner, and it seemed that only that stark black on white (with blue accents and the occasional post-it note) really penetrated my studious fog (well, who am I kidding, I checked my e-mail, but that almost doesn't count).

Then Wednesday I got a phone call from my dad; a close family friend had passed away. She fought courageously against cancer and while everyone knew that her time would come sooner rather than later, no one can ever be "prepared" for the death of a friend. I was struck by the marked difference between the detached, floating sensation of my days of studying and the sadness I felt when I heard that Rose had died. I began to reflect on the time that had passed since her diagnosis; it seems that time flies whether you're having fun or not. Her memorial service was scheduled for Saturday.

Adding to my bizarre feeling (and the seeming hyperbole I mentioned earlier) was that fact that my roommates little sister got married... on Saturday. That's where the picture is from. My roommate was a lovely bridesmaid and the whole affair was beautiful. Nonetheless, the bride was several years younger than I, and nothing makes a person think about the passing of time more than a (younger) friend celebrating a tremendous milestone like promising to spend the rest of her life with someone she loves in front of her family, friends, and everyone.

Independent of the roller-coaster of emotions I experienced on Saturday as I grieved, changed my clothes, got in the car again, and celebrated, both events made me think about my experience in medical school. I forget sometimes that time really is passing while I'm listening, reading, taking notes, and learning. I forget sometimes that I won't graduate until I'm 30. I forget sometimes that people are shocked at the amount of I've committed to school not because they don't understand, but for good reason. If I weren't careful, a huge portion of my life could slip away without my noticing. But weekends like this last one remind me not to let that happen - to catch up with my friends, spend time with my partner, and talk to my family - even if I have a lot of studying to do at the same time.

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