No thank you, society.

“It’s going to take some time, this time, to get myself in shape. I really fell out of line this time, I really missed the gate.”

Society says that at my age I should be married or someone’s parent. That’s all well and good but I always tilted my sword against society’s definition of me as a woman. I am in a man’s profession, surgeon/professor and enjoy many pursuits that are not traditionally associated with women, i.e., flying and sailing. I am me, a person by my definition of  in mind, body and spirit. In the end, society will label me, woman of color (actually two colors), old and at the bottom of what is desired; never smart enough or good enough.  Still, I make my way and explore on my terms; setting for me.

I cried with one of my patients last evening; my heart touched deeply by his gratitude for what is essentially my training. He thanked me for correcting something that had been chronic for years that other physicians had been unable to diagnose. Sometimes, stepping back and taking a fresh look at a case is key to solving a patient’s problems. Something that he told me on our first meeting triggered me to order a test; his problem a surgical one, easily corrected. It’s not me, it’s my training and experience honed over years of reading and study. I am exactly where I belong as a surgeon and physician.

My spring semester moves rapidly along as the days go by. My students are making transitions to analyzing and critical observation. On one hand, they still look for shortcuts but on the other hand, some have slowed down and recognized that they have tools to acquire information from their future patients. This job isn’t about shortcuts or being fast. This job is about being accurate and effective; sometimes with patience.

I tried to be a good wife; thought I was a good wife. In the end, my husband; the man I loved so deeply, killed himself. I have come to a place in my head that tells me that this decision was his and didn’t have much to do with my actions as the woman who loved him. His last act had to be because of me thus I give me to no one, can’t take that risk. As the spring flowers bloom, so do the thoughts of why he left this world; depriving me and others of his brilliance, his wonder, creativity and God-given talent; qualities that should have brought joy.

He made the decision to take his life and destroy a large part of my heart along with that life. I hold myself in darkness as I continue to study his action. My heart breaks; my thoughts decidedly indigo and sadness still palpable though some tiny bits of enjoyment come here and there. I learned to act and act as if I have faith so that faith will be given. In the end, it’s only me and I say “no thanks” to society as much as society says “no thanks” to me.

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