doc w/ Pen

journalist + medical student + artist

Tag: family

Thankgsiving thoughts, circa 1993 and now

Growing up, our Thanksgiving dinner “meal ticket” was writing down what we were grateful for that year in a notebook that my mom put together. While we’re not so formal about this process anymore, we do still count our blessings together at this time of year, though it may be over the phone or via text, since we’re spread across the country now. My mom was flipping through our old Thanksgiving notebook yesterday, and when we talked on the phone this morning, she said she just had to read my entry from 1993 to me.

1993 … that was 24 years ago. I was 12. My sisters were 10 and 4. My family lived in Tucson, Arizona. It was a different time, before most people had heard of the Internet, before widespread use of cell phones, before 9/11. So much has changed since then. But in some important ways, nothing has changed. The top two items I discussed in my 1993 gratitude essay (typed, with near-perfect grammar and punctuation; the budding writer in me already making an entrance) would top my list today too. Here is an excerpt from that essay:

I am definitely thankful for my parents. I am very lucky to have parents that are always there for me, no matter what. If I had a problem or something was wrong, I could talk to them about it. I know my dad thinks I’m special because he takes me out to breakfast and we talk about anything from sports to the Bible. He also plays things like football and basketball with me. I know my mom thinks I’m special, because she does a lot of things like do my hair, make my lunch, and talk and pray with me at night. They also help me with my homework. When I first started at Cross [my middle school], there was a lot I didn’t understand in some of my classes. But my parents helped me, and now I do!

Another thing that I am thankful for are my sisters, Sarah (10), and Joy (4). I’m thankful for them because they love me very much. Some of the ways that they show this are when I’m sick, they’ll always ask if I’m feeling better. They’ll also get things like drinks for me. When I’m bored, they ask to play some kind of game with me. Even though sometimes they’re annoying, I can also babysit them, and earn spending money. During the summer, when everyone was asleep, Sarah would come to my room and we would talk for an hour about lots of things. When I’m sad or disappointed about anything, Joy will come up to me and give me a kiss and hug. Both of them mean a lot to me, and I don’t know what I’d do without them.

That last sentence says it all — I don’t know what I’d do without you, Mom, Dad, Sarah, and Joy. I love you all dearly. I’m so grateful for you, and the integral part each of you has played in my life. The only thing I’m not thankful for is that I didn’t get to spend this Thanksgiving holiday with you. But I’ll be home for Christmas, and we’ll all be together then. I’m counting down the days.

‘No one gets a diploma alone’

Almost every day, I pass by this bus stop billboard, which is across the street from Weill Cornell Medical College.

The message — “no one gets a diploma alone” — is so true. It’s true whether you’re talking about a GED, B.S., or M.D. So every time I see this advertisement, I think of all of you.

And when I say “you,” I’m talking about a lot of people.

My family and close friends play enormously supportive roles. I wouldn’t be here without them. I can’t thank them enough. My classmates, too, play a key part.

But “you” is even broader than my family, friends, and classmates. One of the most difficult things about medical school is the pervasive feeling of isolation. So knowing that there are people across the globe reading my story — many of whom I’ve never met, and am unlikely to ever meet — that helps too.

To each one of you, for your unique contribution: thank you, from the bottom of my heart.