posted on: Wednesday, June 20, 2012

despite my lighter schedule of late, life seems to be moving way too quickly. 
i find myself wishing i took more time to reflect
 and dwell on the magnitude of everything that's been happening. 
it's my nature to multitask, which serves me well in my job 
(i wouldn't be a very good ER doctor if i were only able to handle one patient at a time). 
but at times, i fill my life with so many things just because i can
and it sort of makes me sick. 

i will literally sit on the couch, 
watch tv, 
read blogs on my laptop, 
and be intermittently playing words with friends on my iPhone. 

or i'll go to the gym, 
get on the elliptical machine, 
listen to music, 
and simultaneously read the subtitles on Keeping Up with the Kardashians. 

i fill my head to capacity during every minute of every day. 
usually with stupid, meaningless stuff. 
and if i'm honest, i kind of enjoy it. and this is me. 
it's not going away any time soon. 
but sometimes i have to force myself to just sit. and think. and listen. 

this blog has been cathartic for me in that respect. 
it has created for me a platform upon which i can cast my thoughts and ideas. 
a few times a week, i sit down 
and share my life with the world: 
pictures, recipes, experiences, joys, occasionally sorrows. 
doing this forces me to be introspective. 

it's not that hard for me to soul-search. 
it's just hard for me to make myself make the time to do so. 

some bloggers do so this so well.  
E is one of my favorites: 
she's fantastically introspective, 
and has a gift for turning her self-reflections into writing 
that is so accessible and poignant. 
i always leave her blog with a renewed vigor
 for delving into the recesses of my own psyche. 
this is a confession that would probably make her blush; 
her words are so beautifully simple and unpretentious, 
just like she is. 
but i can't help confessing it. 

i lack her talent for delivering words with such graceful ease, 
but there is an experience i've been wanting to share i hope you'll bear with me. 

last week i had the opportunity to attend a family meeting
...with my own family. 
my grandparents' health has begun to deteriorate a bit, 
and everyone felt it might be time to discuss updating their living will. 
i've been a part of several family meetings like this for patients of mine, 
so it's a role with which i'm not unfamiliar. 
but i still feel a little weird telling people about it: 
"i talked to my grandparents about code status and living wills and end-of-life stuff" 
it's usually a chat that people have with their doctors
...not their grandchildren. 

but if i'm really really honest about it, 
i would have to say that it was a huge honor. 
to be able to use my skills and my expertise in a way 
that truly benefitted my loved ones was an experience that i treasure.

usually my family calls me for other reasons: 
how do i pull this tooth? (my sister, when she was 7) 
my butt itches...what could it mean? (my brother, unfortunately not that long ago) 
do you think this cut needs stitches? (sent via photo text by a friend) 
...and i'm typically very obliging, offering medical advice as my skill level allows. 

but this was different. 

seeing my grandmother's face as she looked at me so intently, 
hanging on every word 
as i explained what really happens during CPR, 
how it affects you, 
success rates; 
trying to do so in a way that was more practical than clinical. 
real talk, if you will. 
feeling goosebumps and tears welling up in my eyes 
and almost a sense of pride 
as she bravely told me she didn't want any of that. 

oh to be able to have that kind of satisfaction with your life. 
to know that you've lived fully and completely. 
to be willing to let go with quiet dignity with the time comes, 
instead of clinging desperately to life. 
knowing that you would rather 
walk confidently into eternity than to remain here, 
a mere shadow of who and what you once were. 
she talked about her faith, 
and how terrifying this stage of life must be for those who have none. 

i was proud of her. and proud to have come from her. 

the implications of this conversation have struck me several times this past week, 
knowing that it means i'll be losing them. 
sometime soon. 
i'm not ready to talk about all that yet. 
and it's not time to. 
but it was an afternoon i'll never forget. 
and i'm thankful for this space, that allows me to share it. 


  1. This is lovely. It's got me a little choked up, and I wasn't/am not close to any of my grandparents. Your words are beautiful and touching- especially the 'I was proud of her. and proud to have come from her.'
    Just lovely; a delicate, yet strong kind of lovely.

  2. I read Elizabeth's blog and I think this post was written beautifully. What a wonderful post and I'm sure your grandparents appreciated your knowledge immensely.

    1. thank you (: this is high praise.

  3. this is beautiful- im sorry you have to go through this but, it must be so special knowing you are there for your grandparents to offer up real advice..

    enjoy all the moments you have!

  4. Don't ever doubt yourself as a writer because if you weren't any good we wouldn't be reading, lol. This post was beautifully written, I could feel your emotions with your words.

  5. Tears everywhere. I'm glad you had that experience with your grandmother though, and honestly, glad she had you there for her when she needed real answers. It's a beautiful thing you shared.

  6. Emily, the truth is, I was just thinking this same thing today too. I was reading another blog and thinking, "MAN, she knows how to say things better than me, and she thinks about subjects deeper than I do too!"

    We all have our own gifts and can think things through when we have the time (or can stand it). I think you've got a gift for picking up on small you saying you were proud of her for saying no to extraordinary measures, how it meant she was satisfied with life. That's something not everyone would pick up on.

    This was beautiful.

    1. comparison is a bitch, eh? we do it to ourselves. oh well.

      i'm starting to get to a place in my life where i can really appreciate and acknowledge the gifts of others without it making me feel small. that's how i feel about you. and isn't it wonderful to see something you admire in someone else? sometimes you are even able to recognize elements of that trait in yourself...and it makes you feel wonderful.

      thank you. means a lot, coming from you.

    2. Same, this is one of my biggest struggles. There is enough for everybody to be wonderful (as my dad would say)!

  7. This is such a beautiful post, and thank you for sharing :) I've been a long time reader but I'm just bad at commenting. I did want to say that I love your blog, and even though you are so busy I look forward to each and every post or instagram picture!

    Oh and I totally do the elliptical/iPod/karsadhian caption reading too!!!


    1. girl, i'm bad at commenting too. it practically takes an act of Congress to get me to do so. but thank you for your words! and it's good to know there's a fellow gym-multitasker out there...

  8. So touchingly beautiful. You are truly an inspiration to someone like myself feverishly trying to finish my AMCAS and AACOMAS applications.

    1. jayme, i love all my readers...but i have a soft spot in my heart for you. i remember being where you are! it feels like a giant forest of minutia. you'll get through it! i'm so thankful that you find any bit of inspiration from me...i wish there were doctor bloggers when i was going through it! if you need any encouragement, email me. i got ya back, yo.

  9. I'm starting to do battle with these kinds of feelings too, as my great grandparents and grandparents slip gradually into ill health. Its ROUGH. It seems like lately at work I've had a lot of contact with the same things ... even a couple of attempted suicide situations.

    You write OK, by the way. :)

    1. it's rough, isn't it. dealing with death. in some senses, i do it all the time. but it's vastly different when it's YOUR family. or your friends. it's such a taboo subject, which is sort of odd, since it's everyone's endpoint.

      there was a beautiful quote printed on the archway over the entrance to the cemetery that was across the street from my undergrad university (not creepy at all). it read: "that which is so universal as death must be a blessing"

      we would all do well to enter into our end-of-days with such peaceful thoughts, don't you think?

  10. i love your writing. so don't hide your light under a bushel :)
    beautiful post!

    1. i needed to hear that this morning. thank you. (:

  11. i really like this post. i think because i'd never survive in the medical world (pass out too easily) so i am somewhat fascinated by any story you share describing life "in the field".

    or maybe i'm just impressed that you can watch KUWTK with subtitles, resisting the urge to hear kourtney and kim's monotonous, super-slow valley girl voices. i could never....

  12. You know, sometimes you just blink and years pass by. Its so easy to become dulled and fatigued by the every day status quo. I find that when I catch myself in autopilot it helps if I turn something off. For example, turning the car radio off. Its amazing how that simple move makes me be in the moment.

    Sending hugs your way!!


  13. You know, sometimes you just blink and years pass by. Its so easy to become dulled and fatigued by the every day status quo. I find that when I catch myself in autopilot it helps if I turn something off. For example, turning the car radio off. Its amazing how that simple move makes me be in the moment.

    Sending hugs your way!!


  14. Oh lady, you said this so beautifully. And even though it wasn't easy for you, I know your grandmother appreciated having the conversation with you vs. anyone else. So precious time is.

  15. you said this so beautifully. I admire your writing - I always laugh and feel connected to whatever you're writing when I visit so thanks for bringing us all along!


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