As we get older, we become much more aware of time and where people fit along the timeline of life. Unfortunately, the busier we get, the harder it is to remember this. The problem with that is we can get too wrapped up in our own lives, our own plans, etc, and we can get out of touch with the lives of those around us. Babies are born, milestone birthdays are achieved, and yes, people die. If you're not paying attention, these can sneak up on you or even go unnoticed.
Throughout medical school and Residency, it was actually really hard to keep my fingers on the pulse of the lives of all the people I care about. With such a busy schedule, there's only so much time and energy available to keep up with all the friends, cousins, colleagues. I found myself trying to keep a constant carousel in my mind, and people would cycle through my thoughts, and I'd try to update myself on their life - their job, their babies, even their personality (we all know people change, and sometimes you realize you either get along a lot better - or worse - than you did before). I feel like a lot of big events for my loved ones occurred, and I probably came across as uninterested or was just plainly absent, but that wasn't by choice, and I definitely didn't like it. So if you feel like I completely snubbed you and some achievement or event, it wasn't on purpose. I just couldn't be part of it. It's not because I didn't want to be. That is just a sad part of choosing a career in medicine that people don't really think about. but it's not just a problem for med students and Residents. It happens to anyone who is overwhelmed or overworked, and the outcome is always the same: some combination of guilt, surprise, remorse, anger, even jealousy of the people who could be there to live that experience with you - whether good or bad.
This year, believe it or not, I've actually had more time to focus on the lives of those I care about. Even with all the adventures and working a full time job (I know most of you still don't believe that I have a full time job down here), I have had more down time to actually devote my time to keeping track of those I care about. The tricky part is that I also moved over 8000 miles away from most of the people I love, so even though I have actually increased my attention to my loved ones, my absence is actually stronger than ever. Tricky, huh?
So even if I have remained absent/silent/un-involved with any major events if your life, just know that I'm watching, and I'm marching through time right next to you.... make that 17 hours ahead of you : ) The NZ/US time change is a mind-trip...
Why such a reflective post all of a sudden??? Well, as I've been spending my time working and playing in New Zealand and a few other exciting places down here, time has marched along back home, and unfortunately, my Grandfather passed away a couple of days ago. It was a harsh reminder that everyone else's lives are moving right on along too. Luckily, I had essentially said my good-byes back before I left, as his death wasn't totally unexpected to occur during my time here. I'm glad I was able to be in-tune enough with his journey to have seen the writing on the wall and be able to not let this completely sneak up on me. Not that it really makes it easier, but it does help reduce the emotional turmoil that I mentioned commonly accompanies these 'missed events'. So even though I am once again absent, I am certainly a part of this major family event, and it helps me to know that I had a chance to say good-bye.
The fact that I'm so far away from home has posed a lot of tricky emotional situations this year. Missing holidays, all the stuff I've mentioned above, missing my family, spending a few holidays alone, starting officially working as an independent doctor (terrifying at first!)... not great. But then the experience I'm having here, living the dream, feeling accomplished in my work while getting to explore such beautiful parts of the world, sharing that with so many visitors and even through this blog... so great. Everything has a good and bad side, and I"ll always look back on this year as one of the best ever... but also one of the hardest ever. It's very strange.
So anyway, I guess I'll wrap this one up with a few shout outs to acknowledge some of the 'biggies' of the last few months that I've obviously missed, but have been very aware of:
We'll miss you, Grandpa! Wish you could tell me about jamming your finger playing football during your time in the Army one more time...
Happy 80th Birthday, Grandma! You're the youngest, prettiest, 80 year old I've ever met.
And Happy 30th Birthday to all my classmates this year. Welcome to the 30 club. It's actually not so bad, eh?
And this is how I've been involved with all the family events: God Bless Skype.
They even put me at the right height.
And to all my cousins and friends who have had babies in the past 8 months... your baby is adorable. Yours is the cutest, but I won't tell the others.
My condolences have gone out to those of you who have also lost loved ones as all of our times have marched along steadily.
And congratulations to the handful of you that have recently gotten married, gotten new jobs, ran your first half marathons, taken your dream vacations, graduated, or done anything else awesome. It helps me if you put it on facebook or send me an email, but regardless, your news trickles its way to me. It's shocking how fast news (and gossip) can travel to the other side of the world.