This has been an incredibly challenging post to write. Nobody does goodbyes well.
Some of you may have noticed that this past Monday did not feature a regularly scheduled someecard post. You may also have noticed that the header on this blog has changed; it is no longer the skyline of Boston’s beautiful Back Bay lit up at night but rather reflects the skyline of my new home – New Orleans.
The past few weeks have truly been a whirlwind and a blur. I’m not quite sure how I fit it all in and managed to survive. I completed my general surgery residency on the 19th and promptly began the long journey (read: two-day drive) from Boston to New Orleans only a few days later. During the last few weeks, surgery residency still had to be finished, packed up my apartment, movers arrived to take all my possessions, my mother was in town, a graduation dinner was attended and a going away party was held. The drive down was not without adventure – packed into a car with more of my stuff, stuck in traffic for what felt like hours in northern Virginia, crazy drivers in almost every state, a quick visit with good friends in North Carolina, and freak thunderstorm with lightning and torrential downpours in Mississippi.
You would think that the flurry of activity would have made leaving Boston easier, that I would be distracted from the fact that I was leaving because of everything going on – but it didn’t. Listen, I don’t consider myself an overly emotional person, but when you’ve spent 7 years in one place (11 if you include undergrad), you grow attached. It becomes a part of you. You get nostalgic. You form a group of people around you that you care about and that care about you. You get used to walking down certain streets and visiting specific places – and every time you do, these experiences conjure up happy thoughts and memories. After 11 years, a place grows on you and changes you. And toward the end of that time, you reflect on all the things you’ve done, all the people you’ve met, all the things you’ve learned… and how quickly all of that is going to change.
Boston has always held a particular place in my heart; from the first moment I visited, I knew that I would attend one of her fine institutions of higher education. But over the years, Boston had become so much more than that for me. When you’re growing up, where you live with your parents is what you consider to be “home.” For most people, where you attend college never really becomes home – it’s truly not long enough and it’s usually transient – but Boston has become my “home”. Boston was the first place I lived after leaving home and embarking on a college education. I grew into an adult there. I discovered myself there. I met my network of friends there. Ultimately, I fell in love there.
It’s an emotional post to write because I’ve left behind so many different parts of my life in Boston, and in so many of those parts, there are countless people to thank for their friendship, support, mentorship and love along the way. I mentioned many of them in my graduation speech – my co-chief residents, the attendings that affected my education and made me into a better surgeon – but there were so many more who didn’t get an honorable mention given time constraints. I’ve struggled writing this post – at times mentioning specific people by name. And then went back and erased it all, because there are too many people to thank – from North 4, to SICU, to the ED and OR, at Winchester and Brockton, to the BU School of Public Health, and my extended group of friends. There as so many who have impacted my life and my career thus far that to name some of them wouldn’t do them proper justice. Both you and I know who you are, and that’s all that matters. I will miss you all something terrible, and hopefully I will see some of you on various trips back to Boston. I’ll continue to post stuff here and on Facebook, so that y’all can keep track. And by all means – come on down to New Orleans!
Back when I was in high school, someone read the poem below on the closing night of one of our musicals. That poem has always stuck with me, and as I grow older, I understand it’s importance more than ever.
Bits and Pieces
People. People important to you.
People unimportant to you cross your life, touch it with love and carelessness and move on.
There are people who leave you and you breathe a sigh of relief
And wonder why you ever came into contact with them.
There are people who leave you and you breath a sigh of remorse,
And wonder why they had to go away and leave such a gaping hole.
Children leave their parents; friends leave friends.
Acquaintances move on. People change homes.
People grow apart. Enemies hate and move on. Friends love and move on.
You think on the many who have moved into your hazy memory.
You look on those present and wonder.
I believe in God’s master plan in lives.
He moves people in and out of each other’s lives, and each leaves his mark on the other.
You find you are made up of bits and pieces of all who ever touch your life,
And you are more because of it, and would be less if they had not touched you.
Pray God that you accept the bits and pieces in humility and wonder,
And never question and never regret.