On the last night of mission trips, I would stay up most of the night until my body finally turned off and fell asleep- usually by 2 AM or so. This was not on purpose at all, it just always happened that way because I somehow convinced myself that those last few hours, even though the rest of the city was sound asleep, were worth holding on to…
Because I knew what was next for us. After 1, 2, 6 weeks of serving together, we’d each have to go back home and back to our lives. We’d face the inexplicably difficult task of figuring out who we were without each other, without sandwiches for lunch every day, rationed hot water and VBS.
We’d have to begin to find meaning all over again for life and our ways of doing life, filtered through new experiences on the field. We’d spend the next 1-2 weeks hablandoing like this porque we could no remember cual idioma we were supposed to be usando at any given tiempo.
And we’d have to feel and re-feel the pain; of the end, of goodbyes, of uncertainties of the next time we’d see our teammates or our Mexican brothers and sisters, when good-intentioned folks enthusiastically asked us “so, how was your trip??”
Apparently, as evidenced by the fact that it is 10PM and I’m super tired but not sleepy at all, the last week of residency is going to be like the last night of a mission trip. Actually, if you think about it, it’s not that different.
On Friday, August 29, my peers and I will say some pretty difficult goodbyes. Some of us are to the point where we cry if we even think about it, others of us can’t sleep.
We know (kind of) what’s next for us. After 1 year (or more for a few of us) of serving together, we face the inexplicably difficult task of figuring out who we are without seeing each other every day/twice a week, without PICUs, TICUs, NICUs, CICUs, CIRUs, Transplant Units, Stepdowns, and regular floors to cover daily.
We have to find new meaning for life and our ways of doing life filtered through the experiences we’ve had in the hospital. We’ll spend the next 1-2 weeks thinking about how we would write up conversations with friends as a verbatim to present in supervision and we’ll probably never be able to watch a movie without extracting it’s hidden theological meaning ever again.
We’ll have to feel and re-feel the pain; of the end, of goodbyes, of uncertainties of when we’ll see our co-residents, supervisors, staff chaplains, patients again; when good-intentioned people ask us “so, how was your residency?”
I’ve decided that if I don’t get that much sleep this week, the people and experiences who have caused me to lie awake and try to picture my life without them are totally worth it and I’m thankful for all of it.