August 15, 2011


     My summer is done.  School has started, my lack of class attendance notwithstanding.  I began to look back over my summer with my wife.  "Wow, I didn't do anything."
     "Sure you did.  You went on your hiking trip, you....." my wife tried to reassure me.  But no, compared to last summer, I did very little by conventional measures.  To an outsider's eyes, it would appear that I sat and watched the grass grow all the while drinking a beer or three.  My wife became a little concerned at times.  There's a very fine, thin line between working through grief and wallowing in it.  And indeed, I did watch the grass grow.  I watched the bees buzz, the butterflies flutter by, and the birds sing, all the while drinking a beer or three.  And all the while, I pondered much about life and it's counterpart death.  I now truly understand what it means to 'work through grief.' 
      Knowing my time was short, I now intimately know what intense grief work requires.  I read deeply and richly about the process of dying and living.  Psychology, religion, medicine, classic literature, personal narrative - not content with any one viewpoint, I asked the meaning of dying and living from a number of authors and thinkers and doctors.  I thought and thunk and wrote and pondered and meditated and cried and lashed out in anger.  Dissecting a tornado, really.  My own son commented the other day to my wife only half jokingly, "well I can't believe dad's memory, you know his brain ain't all here lately."  So did it help?  At first, I was not sure.  After all, I often still feel like shit.  But grief work isn't necessarily about feeling better.  And so after sorting through some more issues surrounding the impending struggle of my dad, I can now say it absolutely helped.  Will I have more emotions to sort through during school?  Absolutely.  I am not so naive to thinking my grieving process done, nevermind the stresses of my dad's battle and my own school (med school is a wee bit stressful in its own right, even if I don't portray that).  Far from it.  It's not even been three months yet since my brother died.  A minimum of two years for a major loss like this sayeth every single book I read, be it from a layperson or grief counselor.  But I feel like I am better prepared and armed to process those feelings as they come. 
     So today, even though school has started, I trust my soul's intuition and extract one extra day of summer - to sit and watch the grass grow while drinking a beer or three and pondering the meaning of life.  I've earned the right to do that.  And even if I haven't, oh well, experience has taught me that I will do just fine with school anyways.


Steve Parker, M.D. said...

I had a dream last night. In it, I was given or shown proof that there is an afterlife. (I don't recall details at this point.)

I rarely have any emotion in a dream unless it's a nightmare, then I feel fear. Last night, I felt joy.

My belief in an afterlife comforts me in the face of death.


Isaac said...

Sounds like a pretty powerful dream.