Thursday, May 29, 2014

On Eating Elephants

I had an anxiety dream the other night. Unpleasant while I was in it, but I had to laugh when I woke up for the complete lack of subtlety. I dreamt that I was at Scott's upcoming memorial service, reading my reflection. Except I couldn't read it because the font was tiny and the text was full of utterly unpronouceable drug names.

I feel like I'm trying to eat two elephants these days. Elephant #1 is studying for my upcoming Boards exam. There is so much to commit to memory. Pharmacology, biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, pathology. Everything we covered in the first two years of med school, all fair game over the course of a seven-hour 322-question multiple choice exam. It's a beast, and it's happening exactly two weeks from today. I'm fairly confident I'll pass, but it would be nice to get a high score, as this is an important number for residency applications. I wish I had an extra month to study but I'm looking forward it being over and done with. I'm trying to remind myself that I will do exactly as well as I need to do for whatever needs to happen next.

The second elephant I'm working on is, of course, grief. I've been sad since coming back to San Francisco, missing Scott more regularly. I was making coffee for myself on Sunday morning and suddenly remembered how, for years, I would make coffee for him and me every morning. I'd froth milk in our "Mom" and "Dad" mugs, divide coffee between them, and wait to take my first sip until we'd toasted each other, "To you." I stopped making coffee for Scott a while ago - he stopped waking up early with Clark and me because he needed more sleep, and even once he was awake the bitter flavors were often too much for his chemo-ravaged taste buds. I've been making coffee for myself for a long time. But that ritual suddenly felt like an acute absence. We did it at Delafield, in Davis, here. And somehow the thought that I won't get to make coffee for him again is giving me a lump in my throat right now. Our mugs are still hanging in the kitchen, within easy reach.

This elephant, unlike the Boards, has no clear endpoint. To be honest, I'm a little annoyed to have to be digesting this chunk just now. Can't I just focus on one elephant for a while? But having it so prominently in my life provides balance, perspective. It's good to remember that there is so much more than a Boards score, now and always. And anyways, pretty soon after Boards I'll launch into surgery, which will be a whole other animal. I think I'm set up to have a life full of elephants for the time being.

Scott's East Coast memorial service is in two weeks and two days. It will be good to see people there, to connect.


Tori said...


Cathy Wirth said...

Really looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks Libby. Sending you many good thoughts for vanquishing elephant're going to do a great job on the exam, and just as well as you need to/are supposed to, as you so eloquently say.

marian said...

Wishing you as pleasant of a rendezvous with Elephant #1 as possible. However you score, it'll be the perfect score to get you to where you want to be. That's for certain! Sending good thoughts regarding the other elephants in your life, love.