Sunday, December 25, 2016

We Were There


She peered up at me, her face alighted by the morning haze streaming through an adjacent window.  A soft kind face, she had aged over the years.  A pair of reading glasses sat perched on her nose ready to be squinted through as she turned her attention to the ever shrinking font on the glowing computer screen in front of her.

We had been colleagues once, lifetimes ago.  My first job after residency.  She, being a few years older than I, was less of an amateur back then.  We stumbled and bumbled though those early days of hospitalism.  I remember the practice of medicine felt so raw and new.   I spent many hours traversing those winding hallways.  And it became my home.

It's hard to explain what the concept of hospital means to a physician.  It is the place where we start as novice, move to apprentice, and exist ever after striving towards mastery.  Many of our significant moments have occurred under those sterile lights.  We have seen lives saved and lost, tears shed in both joy and despair.  It is the place where we have been broken down and if lucky, built back up.

So when you happen upon a colleague on Christmas morning after over a decade, it gives you a moment to contemplate.  A funny thing happens over time.  Doctors show all the telltale signs of aging.  Our hair thins, our backs bend ever so gently forward, maybe the waistline expands a touch.  We wear our battle scars unabashedly.

Yet the hospital, our home, our outer shell, no longer reflects these changes,  Floors are remodeled, wings are expanded, computers are upgraded.  Everything new and young.  And the medical students and residents scurry through the newly updated units.  It is their hospital now.

My colleague and I.  Banished from our childhood home.  Visitors in a foreign country. Strangers in a familiar land.  We will be accepted again one day.  Not as healers anymore, but as patients.  

We may die in the place we once lived.  But the signs of our existence will have been long washed away by progress and expansion.

There will be little left of us.  Except the lives of the those we touched.  And their families and children.  And children's children.

On forgetful Sunday mornings and even on Christmas.

We were there.

1 comment:

Janice said...

"There will be little left of us. Except the lives of the those we touched. And their families and children. And children's children." And your readers...don't forget those who read and learn from you. You open our hearts. You help heal us, too.