Wednesday, August 11, 2010

doctor mark b.

It’s been two years in the making, filled with so many downs sprinkled with just a couple of ups.

I listened to practiced presentations, fixed typos in PowerPoint, and proofread papers. I showed up with sandwiches from the dining hall and made pasta and chicken dinners when he was too busy to eat. I sat on his bed, doing my own work and eating from a tub of animal crackers, gently pushing him to get back to work when he got frustrated. I drove to his house several times in one week, prepping him for the second round of MCATs.

I dried tears and spilled plenty of my own. Luckily most of my senior year was easy enough that I could spare my time when he needed me. There were countless breakdowns, mood swings and arguments, most of which I blindly submitted to without complaint. Occasionally I found myself overstressed and immersed in my own breakdown as a result, but nothing I couldn’t survive.

Many people ask, or at least wonder, why? Why would I sacrifice so much – sometimes at a heavy price – for someone else’s dream? Part of it was probably because I didn’t have a dream of my own that I could dedicate myself to, part of it was because I was in love. But most of it was because I knew that if I didn’t help, his dream, and subsequently his life, could fall apart in front of him.

He became a pessimist and at every challenge, he found it that much harder to go forward. Whenever he wanted to give up, I refused to let him. I calmly explained, I bargained, I comforted, I played the optimist, and at times, I just full-out yelled at him. I kept pushing because I knew that if it was truly what he wanted, he could achieve it. And after two years of poor MCAT scores, late applications, too few interviews, six-hour trips to far away schools, and a couple of acceptances to mediocre schools, he finally got taken off the wait list and accepted at his school of choice.

Last Friday, August 6th, it all became real. I sat in the fourth row, next to his family and behind a handful of fourth-year medical students in the indoor courtyard of the university hospital. It was one of the first times I was at a celebratory ceremony for one of my peers – I had been on the other side at my own graduations and in the audience for younger cousins and friends – and it felt strange. It felt even stranger that, when they addressed the family and friends in the audience, they were talking to me.

It took pretty much all I had not to start bawling at every turn – as the speakers talked about supportive family and friends; as they addressed the incoming class as “future doctors”; as Mark took the stage and donned his white coat. I have a habit of finding the strangest moment to become emotional and it happened again as my tears held out until the end, when the class recited the Hippocratic Oath. It wasn't a particularly poignant moment, but it was at that point it all clicked, that this was truly happening and Mark would eventually be walking around a hospital, taking care of people.

It’s been difficult and challenging to push him through this uphill battle, but it’s been completely worth it. Although our relationship is over, we're still really close like any best friends would be. And, honestly? I’ve never been happier for or prouder of any person, ever, than I was in that moment (and still kind of am).