My brain is a mess of bittersweet, pride and exhaustion After what I can say was most intense year of my life, I’m done. The past week has been a whirlwind of celebrations, answering “What’s next,” and emotions ranging from joy to jealousy. I’m at once so exuberant to have made it through and devastated that I’m starting yet another round of goodbyes and until next times.
The thing they don’t tell you about this program is how much the end hurts. Yes the ability to breathe, catch up on blogs, enjoy the sunshine, and just be is wonderful. But underneath it all is an extreme sense of loss. I haven’t broken down yet but I feel it coming on and I’m wondering who will incite it. I said my first
farewell “until next time” yesterday, to someone I’ve known but a few months but who has forever changed me. And I’m sad to see her go and hopeful our paths will cross again and believing they will if it is meant to be.
People come into our lives for so many different reasons. Some stay, some go, all impact us for better or worse.
The fact is, this program is like no other. What we’ve seen and experienced…its impossible to understand from the outside. The beau has confirmed this, and so have countless other partners and parents and friends and loved ones who have been around for the full year, who have seen the devastation and the exhilaration but who could not fully empathize with it.
As we prepare for a new class to enter, I’ve been thinking a lot about do’s and don’ts. Of advice I would give and whether it would mean anything. We’re told to start the work early and make the most of every moment. But we aren’t told to hold these new friends, our battle buddies, close because in a few short months we’ll scatter to all parts of the world itself. And though technology makes it easy to stay in touch nothing will be the same as the engulfing hugs, the late night talks, the city wanderings, the progressive dinners & potlucks, the continual discovery of something new and surprising.
Yet it is these very heartbreaking reasons that undoubtedly fueled the pure joy we experienced at commencement when as a class we stood up and roared, letting the applause and the gratitude and the pride fill us up and tumble out our open mouths and raised arms. It was these that encouraged us to cheer and hoot and holler for nearly 200 of our classmates as they walked across the commencement stage. It was these that drove us to make every moment count during the after parties. Differences were put aside, hurts were forgotten and for one day, at least, we simply enjoyed.
For some, this ending has left us feeling a bit lost and disconnected, unsure where to go from here. For others it has opened opportunities they never dreamed would be come a reality. Many of us are trying to find the balance between feeling happy for friends and jealous that it is not our turn; finding grace in moments of doubt and insecurity without raining on others’ parades.
Yet at the end of it all, what we’ll take away, are the memories and the changes and growth we’ve undergone thanks largely to the people around us. And at reunions and in random texts and group facebook messages we’ll periodically reminisce about the “good old days [that] weren’t always good.” We’ll whisper about “that time” and “remember when you taught me x” and let the late nights and stress be a little less important.
At the end of the day I don’t regret this decision. I have regrets from this year, no doubt, but I would not have stayed stuck in my former role if given the choice to go back and do it all again. So as this year has officially come to a close, I’m focusing on the now and the memories. On returning to a state of gratitude for everything that it has given me rather than that which it took away. On finding compassion for myself and the fact that despite working and blogging and cooking and living and a new diagnosis and the subsequent biweekly treatment…I got through it. I didn’t land on top, a fact which I’m admittedly still struggling with, but I didn’t give up either; rather, I did for a bit but found the strength to not just carry on but seek the help I needed, both medically and from friends.
And it is that message I can pass along to the next cohort: to get through, stay true to yourself, and realize that all you can do is your best, no one else’s. It’s a lesson I’m still trying to incorporate with the help of understanding friends and well-timed blog posts. And it’s the most important lesson, I believe, I was meant to learn this year.
MPH Class of 2013…it truly has been transformative.