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May 15, 2010

Graduation, but Not Mine

Tomorrow – well, actually, later today – Patrick and I are going to cheer on my former class as they graduate from medical school. My people, the ones I still identify with more than any other group, become Medical Doctors tomorrow afternoon and I am so excited to be there to see it. But, as you probably expect, I feel a little weird about the whole thing as well.

I’m nervous to see people I haven’t talked to in a few years. I hate explaining why I took a year off, what I’ve been doing, and, though most of them know about me moving and everything else that happened over the last crazy year, it is not like I have been on the forefront of anyone’s thoughts. Seeing me again will likely be confusing and will raise questions, albeit happy ones. I think it will be disconcerting to walk into that group, in the middle of their celebration, and think about what might have been.

I could have been a doctor tomorrow too. I could be in the midst of preparing for graduation, my family gathering, my mother crying inexplicably, my father standing awkwardly at the side, my sisters huddling and giggling and wielding Fashion Police badges. Would Colin have been there? Would he have clapped with the rest of the crowd as the names were called and the people crossed the stage? Would Patrick have had to miss my turn because he had to rush Colin out to keep him from screaming?

I am not the type to feel regret or wonder about the “what ifs” of life. I pride myself on living in the moment, looking only forward and never back. But here I am. It’s the middle of the night and I’m studying personality disorders while my people, my class, my friends, laugh and celebrate. I miss that life that wasn’t. I’m oddly nostalgic for the experiences I never had with them.

But look at what you have instead, you say. Look how great everything turned out! It was meant to be this way.

I know. I know you’re right. I do see how great everything is and how clear it is that things are the way that they should be. But it is late and my optimism and sense of perspective seem to be all used up for today. So instead I am looking through old pictures and wishing the best for my friends and classmates. They mean more to me than I can put into words and, as a whole, are an incredible group of people. An incredible group of doctors.

Congratulations and lots of love, Class of 2010.

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