Death, Dying, and Hope

I just found out that a faithful minister who served at my church and throughout the world went to be with the Lord after a short, intense course of treatment for stage IV colon cancer. I still am in shock. My heart aches for his family, and I know many, many people around the world have heard and are saddened to hear the news. This brother served with everything in him, and his strength was from the Lord. The fire he had inside him for the Lord, the things of the Lord, and the God’s people never dimmed, even in his last days. When I think of his ministry, I see a testimony of how God loves His Church and how the Lord works for His people. It is a somber time, but it is also a time where we can have peace because we know he is now with our Lord.

His passing, I feel, is a wake up call. Our days on earth are numbered, so what does it mean to make our days count? If my goal is to gain Christ, how should I spend my days so that at the end of my life, be it soon or far away, God is pleased with me?  When others look at me, do they see a person owned by the world or do they see a reflection of Christ?

I often think that since I am young, I have many years yet to live. But really, who knows? My grandfather was born the same year as the brother I mentioned but he passed away from liver cancer when he was 44 years old. The other day we had a patient who suddenly had a cardiac arrest while she was at home, and after about two hours of trying to resuscitate her, she was pronounced. A friend asked me about how it affected me morally to witness death, and I responded that since I didn’t see the patient alive because she was brought in unconscious, I was okay. What affected me more was seeing the patient’s family members weeping and asking us to just try one more time to bring her back. During a discussion with my classmates and professors today, death and dying was brought up and there was a consensus that in the field it’s completely different to see the test questions manifest as life and death situations and it can be hard to handle.

My head is all over the place, but I hope the thoughts of my heart have come through. Life is not easy, whether it’s my own life or the lives that I take care of. It is fragile and it is short, but it is also full and precious and a gift. It is a chance to experience all that God created and it is a time to find and fulfill purpose. Though I am currently a physician assistant student, I am also a daughter, sister, friend, classmate, stranger, etc. and in my life I’d like those around me to at least have a glimpse of the wonder, grace and love of Christ through my actions and interactions.

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Free Time

Free time is a funny thing. The other day someone asked me what my hobbies were and what I did in my free time. I actually had to stop and think for a while, and when I answered, I told her I haven’t had free time in a really long time so I didn’t really know what to tell her. Having to study every open moment I had was torturous, yes, but it came with the territory of being a physician assistant student. I ended up telling the person who asked me the question what I used to like doing on weekends and breaks.

Oftentimes PA school has harsh effects on not just a person academically but also interpersonally. It’s sort of like you’re removed from what’s going on around you for a whole year. Sure I texted, messaged and called friends and family, but exchanges were sparse and short in duration due to, you guessed it, limited time, and also because I didn’t want to be distracted during my studying. That sounds bad, but you know how conversations can get carried away and take your attention away from your work? In order to finish studying at a reasonable time each night, I didn’t allow myself to text too much. Naturally, if communication is limited, relationships will become more distanced. But also through this trial I could see who was a true friend, the type of friend that would make an effort to empathize and keep in touch despite my situation. Admittedly, I was not the best friend to others because my schooling took so much of my time and effort, though I tried to keep up with friends as much as I could. Throughout the entire year, my family was amazing. They encouraged me, prayed for me, and made an effort to go through the year alongside me, which meant everything.

I think I’ve become somewhat of a hermit because now I see free time as an opportunity to catch my breath and rest. This usually works out because in the past three years of living in New York, hanging out with others was not really something I did. Now that I have additional time during the day and many weekends free (depending on the rotation), it’s a weird feeling. Last night I was reading snippets of an emergency medicine textbook and went through old notes while I ate ice cream in bed. And today I’ll do the same, minus the ice cream because I finished it yesterday.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful for the past year and I love what I’m doing right now. There are just aspects of PA school that I feel aren’t talked about as much and it’s something I have learned to come to terms with. I would never do the past year over again, but if I could go back and prepare myself and my friends and family better, I would. But then again, I had no idea what I was getting into. Perhaps after I’ve settled into rotation life I’ll give an update about free time hobbies.