Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On Being a Better Human, Being Grateful

One of Bear's last photos... always the ham.

It's been a year since Bear died.

I miss the old guy. He would have liked this new place, even the snow. He would have liked the new people, the balcony, the new home surrounded by lots of places to romp.

I look at my life, the changes that took place over the last year, and mind. blown. I can't even begin to describe how different my life is now. If I could tell myself a year ago what it would be like, I don't think I would have believed it. There's a lot of great. The new and fabulous friends. The realization that I'm tougher than I thought I was. Or that I'm much more of an extrovert than I care to admit. The brilliant sunsets and drenching rainstorms. The wine bar I frequent on Mondays.

There's a lot of bad. The exhaustion. The mind-crushing amount of work. The realization that people who are good at their jobs may not be qualified to teach. The lack of good Asian food. The feeling of being unmoored. Some unfortunate life choices. The fact that I'm too tired and too tunnel-visioned to stay in touch with anyone or anything.

Home. For now.

Dear God, I didn't even mention winter.

Omaha's a nice place. Very livable. But those winters are terrible, especially for a Southern Californian who barely sees rain, let alone snow and sub-zero temps.

I survived. I think I lost a little bit of humanity and dignity in the process, but I survived.

Now it's spring. The trees have blossoms and the rain dumps lustily. Not that I have time to enjoy it. My life right now is making my brain learn about itself. We're amazing machines and I often forget what a privilege it is to be in a position to learn how to be a good mechanic. I fought like hell to be here and sometimes, in the deepest moments of bone-breaking exhaustion, I forget to be grateful.

So, before I head back to learning about neurology, particularly the underpinnings of epilepsy and the drugs to treat it, I wanted to reflect on the things I'm grateful for. Bear, of course. Having a dog taught me to be a better human. Being a better human is a very good thing. I'm grateful for friends. The ones here and at home who listen to me ramble about stupid things, watch my back when I need it most, and forgive me for my shortcomings. I'm grateful for Dan, who stayed the course when I strayed from it.

Midwestern autumn.

Once upon a time, I came upon a Newsweek piece that called marriage "a voyage apart in the same direction". I was unmarried then and pretty skeptical of the institution of marriage, but those words stuck with me. They never rang more true than they have in the last 10 months, where we spent 1600 miles apart and if we were traveling two paths alongside each other, Dan's would be a straight line and mine would be weaving and twisted, like I was impaired. He stayed the course and forgave me for a few unplanned course changes.

Going back to school was like having a chance to do things right. To do-over the years I wasted in my 20s. I struggled with depression, family issues, and intense fear. I feel like I've become the dynamic and empowered individual I should have been 10 years ago. That feeling is heady and I ran with it. Some things I did right, like taking the time to let loose and enjoy life. Some things I didn't do quite right, like forgetting who I was and who/what was important.

This was San Diego over winter break. Worst tease of my life.

In the end, I'm grateful for everyone who stuck by me when I roamed unmoored. Some have been in my life a long time and some haven't been around as long. But they all look at the crazy and they're still here. I'm grateful for that.

As I barrel toward the last of my first year in medical school, I'm learning that my greatest challenge won't be a neurology exam or overnight call. It'll be striving to be a good wife, friend, daughter, and colleague. Some days I'm ok at it, other days I'll totally fuck up.

I'll do better tomorrow. There's always tomorrow. Until then, I'll think about all of the great people in my life. I'll remember Bear and his presence, his companionship, and the perpetual reminder to be a better human.

1 bites:

Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence said...

Such a beautiful post Marie! Glad to hear that you survived winter, and that you are doing well in your new environment :) I know it's a bit cliche, but I love the saying "The only constant in life is change." Seems like you and Dan are handling these changes well, and I'm sure this experience will prepare you for any changes or challenges you'll have in life together in the future.

The big question is... will you be coming back to SD sometime over the summer :)?! We miss you!!

1 bites