No Beginning and No Ending

I am going to try to relate this to you in a way that does not sound contrived. It’s impossible. It is contrived. Contrived means that it was obviously planned. This, what I am telling you about, was, and yet something entered in to the space between the plan and the unknown, the wonderful, if you will allow me that.
I showed up to Cincinnati for my residency in general surgery with every expectation to be working 100 hours + weekly. I was not disappointed. At the same time as that extremely and unyielding schedule, I met Robbo. We met on almost day one at the VA Hospital. The elevator made a sound of two notes that said it was probably meant to be. Those two notes were the first two notes of St. Stephen’s, a song we both knew.
Ok, so this is where it turns in to a story about two guys who know the same Grateful Dead song and they get connected. Etc. But I have to make this mean more, because there are a million stories like that out there. Never mind that Rob and I, like beautiful, innocent children, at age 26, followed mail delivery people around to get our Spring or Summer Grateful Dead tickets, like children, you get that right? Never mind that we abandoned ourselves and found ourselves by finding each other at Grateful Dead shows throughout our 100+ hour/week schedules, more like 120 hours per week–do that math for your current job and then multiply by minimum wage, which was less than $5/ hour. Whatever.. We were given the opportunity to operate on live humans and learn. For all those people who gave me that chance I say: Thank you Ma’a,m, Sir. I have done the best I can each and every day, even when I have made mistakes, with what you taught me, and, thank you.
So we needed the time off, Rob and me. It was hard, I won’t lie. It was the distance between the moon and the earth, the distance between the expectation to be there in the morning at 5am and our desire to be together, Rob and me, and , surgery on humans, and our own human limitations. The struggle was inexplicable. I can’t really explain it here. Take a minute and imagine you go from not cutting people open, to cutting people open and what that means in terms of responsibility and privilege and then the absolute need to decompress from that to be separate from that, to be kids again for a minute, really that is it at the heart of it, to be kids.
In the midst of that, insert the Grateful Dead Spring tour of 1991 and two boymen who know they need to not just work but also to play. You will feel maybe then amazing gulf between the moon and the earth if you understand that. It is different and necessarily different worlds. They connect the way that a gas peddle and the road connect: not exactly directly but not indirectly either.
Anyway, Robbo, it feels like summer and the moon is long in the sky tonight and Jerry is now gone and dead, but every year at this time, I miss you so hard and I love you for sharing surgery training with me. And I love you anyway and always, brother, silly as it sounds.

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3 Responses to No Beginning and No Ending

  1. Barbara says:

    Oh I love this post —- made me feel.

  2. Sue Kay says:

    Connection. There is something about that – it happens usually only a few times in our lives…and it is hard to explain how and why and the wonder of it. You did a great job.

  3. Robbo says:

    I have lots to say, yet nothing that can say it as well. Me too, my friend…me too.

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