Sacrifice. We see it all around us. Some are obvious: a pregnant woman, a soldier doing his tour of duty over seas, a busy student doing their best to get by. Others are hidden: a single parent playing all roles, the spouse/partner of the overseas soldier and/or busy student, parents in poverty stricken areas trying to keep their kids safe.
It is the second day of school, and I’m getting a small sample of what the rest of the year will look like. No different, really, than undergrad and two full-time jobs. Hard but not impossible. I am quietly shifting our broken routine from a busy yet schedule-free summer to a rigid and understanding daily routine. Lonely memories creep into my psyche as I trudge through the grind.
Each step, I remember a previous one. Not so long ago, the days were full of despair and I was frightened to wake up the next morning, alone, with my children.
Sure I have my moments, but life has changed. Happiness has replaced sorrow; energy the tiredness. It’s remarkable, really, to start a new year with hope and excitement.
I could attribute much to my medications. They saved me. Literally. I went from suicidal–not to scare anyone, but it is the truth–to embracing each new day. Knowing if I make mistakes, they won’t ruin the rest of my time here on Earth.
Most of it, really, comes from finding new meaning to life. A new purpose. I don’t muse on how I can’t change the world, I make a plan and focus on the little things: volunteering in shelters, helping a friend, contributing my talents to a needy community. I am using creativity–a word I would never have attached to myself.
We came to this medical school because it has a history of being family-oriented. I have met many people who have already become dear, and hopefully, life-long friends. But the further we get into things, the more my mind considers how I might make a difference. I thought I’d want to get involved with the school, but the activities seem menial. The focus too much on entertainment and not enough on issues, the things that I am passionate about.
Don’t get me wrong, a good support network is essential to get through medical school. For me and for Ben. However, that isn’t all life is about. I can’t live in my privileged bubble without considering the needy, the tired, the hungry, the poor. Images pop into my mind of women all over the world being taken advantage of and children being neglected. While I used to hide from these painful thoughts, I have recently allowed them to consume me.
And this is where my greater purpose comes in. The void I’ve felt is being filled. Not with religion, like some would believe, but with compassion. With fire. With zeal. I don’t believe in a God (at least I’m still coming to terms with how I view God), but I do believe in people. I know that I can help the suffering. Not just by donating food, but by donating my time. My love. My money. Not just to charities, but in ways that are undefinable.
I don’t need a nice car, nice clothes, nice furniture, or a nice home. The space we are currently residing in has more rooms than we can fill. And I don’t want to fill them. I want them to stay empty so I can donate the extra things to people who really need them.
There are some sacrifices that aren’t painful.