Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day #23: There's no telling what tomorrow will bring.

What a day this has been. It started at just another work day; shower, coffee, commute, patients, and paperwork. When I woke up this morning, I had no idea what I was in store for. My day started off as usual. I was in clinic at 8am, seeing patients, diligently dictating notes, checking labs, and periodically checking my work email between patients. What I did not expect to receive was a message at 11:30 informing the campus that a shooting had occurred. I did a double take for a second, and almost didn't believe what I was reading. After I saw my last patient, I had to go investigate, and found out from co-workers the extent of the situation. I discovered the situation was more severe than I had thought. The media had descended upon our great institution, we were all on lock down, and all of us were glued to our computer screen. Fortunately, I was in another building when the incident occurred. However, my thoughts were always with the helpless people entrenched in the thick of the situation.

The day reminded me that the unexpected can occur at the blink of an eye, and that none of us are promised tomorrow. I remember this all too vividly after losing my father. I will never forget that day...a dreary humid June morning. I was home from college on break and spending my days working as a barista and my nights spent with my then boyfriend. The day progressed as usual, with a light drizzle that came and went. I even remember the flaired, button up jeans I was wearing (forgive my fashion choice, that was the style!). And then it happened, my whole world as I knew it came abruptly crashing down all around me. I knew from that day forward that my life would never be the same.

This is the effect of tragic human events. A loss, a tragedy, will change our inner being forever. At that point, the choice must be made to allow the tragedy to consume and destroy us, or to grow and learn, and forge ahead with even more determination and more appreciation of life. I have learned not only from my father, but from family, friends, and patients, that life must be lived to the fullest each and every day. Harper Lee wrote in "To Kill a Mockingbird," "There are some kind of men who are so busy worrying about the next life, they've never learned to live in this one."

My attitude about life has become one that allows me to smile when I feel like crying, to exhale when I want to scream, and to reflect when I want to react. A Turkish proverb proclaims, “Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.” I'm reminded on a daily basis how fragile life is, and because of this, I want to live each day I am granted to the absolute fullest.

I know we all learned something from today, and I hope it involves more understanding, love, and appreciation of the beauty of life. We have this one life, and why would we not want to make it one of joy, happiness, and accomplishment. Love your family and friends. Even love your enemies; you never know when you will need them. Hug people instead of shaking their hands. Smile at a complete stranger. Hold your baby, kitty cat, or puppy as much as possible. Above all, love yourself, and live the best life you possibly can. I'd like to leave you with a poem by Charlotte Bronte. She so eloquently described in verse the peaks and valleys of life. Life has its moments of light, and its moments of darkness, but in the end it is hope that sustains us.

by Charlotte Bronte

LIFE, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall ?

Rapidly, merrily,
Life's sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily,
Enjoy them as they fly !

What though Death at times steps in
And calls our Best away ?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O'er hope, a heavy sway ?
Yet hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair !

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