I just turned 30 last Monday. I had expected fireworks or shafts of light or epiphanies to greet my 30th year. Instead, there was nothing - just the usual hospital routine on a post-duty Monday. After making rounds on my patients, I spent 3 hours dozing through the hemodynamics conference which has, in my lowly opinion, surprisingly become boring, halfhearted and full of intellectual gibberish. My consultants, in their attempt to give me a little bit of joy and semblance of a celebration for my birthday, made their rounds quick and short. Go home early, they said. Have dinner with family and friends. Have a great time. It's your birthday, celebrate. Celebrate, my ass.
Instead of going home early, I spent my free afternoon napping on the rickety bed of our callroom. There were several calls from old friends, which of course, in my silly, unemotional, anhedonic way, still warmed my heart. After the sun has set, I commenced my routine 15-minute walk to my apartment in Nakpil.
As I was walking home, I couldn't help but wonder, "So this is me at 30, huh? What's the fuss about being 30?" No wonder my parents never even bothered to call, and my oldest near-40 best bud only sent an unembellished 2-word "happy birthday" text message. They must have known. There's really no big deal about being 30 at all.
Unemotional as I was, I still wanted to do something different for my birthday. And I did! For the first time after a long long time, I studied my Cardiology textbook. Ahhh, my shiny, good-as-brand-new Braunwald was finally opened, and for the next 3 hours, colored with yellow, orange, and green Stabilo highlighters. I didn't have a party, I didn't even have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer, and no, I never blew candles on a birthday cake. But I highlighted 20 or more pages of my chic and flawless Braunwald. Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...
It's my end-of-the year exam tomorrow. And as always, I'm bound to fail it, grandly at that. It's not like it's going to make me sad. A grand, big-time, audacious failure is what I deserve. If I get 30%, i would be laughing already. I believe exams should accurately reflect what the trainees have learned during their training days. A 30%, for me, would be an overestimate. I do believe my testmanship skills are already on their full gear with that score. And I have great testmanship skills, I even give lectures on that!
Tomorrow, I intend to make a statement. My failure, which will probably irk a lot of my teachers' sense of pride for their beloved home institution, should be worth all my embarrassment, self-esteem attacks, and the realization that my brain is all dried up and good-for-nothing. My failure should display a clear assessment of what I learned and what I have become as a cardiologist during the past year: NOTHING.
I have learned nothing. I'm still that big, ugly girl, awkwardly dressed in a long white coat, pretending to be adept at all problems of the heart, but I know and I am nothing.
So go ahead, Jean, fail that exam. And if they will be alarmed, thou shalt not fail in vain.
This afternoon, I gathered enough strength to ask my good friend who recently lost his mom how he is. I'm not a bad friend, unemotional and extremely cerebral though I am. But when it comes to this particular friend, words just seem to be too much. For some strange cosmic reason, we somehow manage to convey important statements without saying a thing. That's how really good friends are supposed to be, I guess.
Anyway, I asked him when they're burying Nanay. Having cared for her for more than a month, I would have wanted to be there when the family says their final goodbyes. And yes, I have loved her, again, for some strange cosmic reason, or more appropriately, perhaps for no reason at all.
I had quite expected my friend's response. They have buried her already, last Tuesday. He didn't bother to inform me. He assumed I knew. He was even wondering why I wasn't there.
Assumptions. Perhaps this entire relationship was based on wrong assumptions. Perhaps there's really no such thing as strange, cosmic relationships after all.
I hope one day, my friend and I would really get to talk, bring out all the assumptions in the open, and discuss things out loud. When words come into play, reality is obscured - I know this and I subscribe to this notion fully and without doubt. But sometimes, words would have to be used.
On the other hand, my friend and I may have had assumed a multitude of wrong ideas about each other for the past years. There are just some things that need no talking about. This bond, however, isn't assumed. It's a strange, weird, spiritual connection. And though I assume he doesn't know, I do. Oh yeah, ever since Day 1, I do.
One of my newest and dearest friends, very sweetly and thoughtfully, celebrated my 30th birthday with me last weekend. The trip to the mountains, the flickering city lights, the cold January breeze, the warm company and amazing conversations - they were all better than any party or gift or milestone I could ask for. To whom this may concern, yeah, I know you're reading this, thank you for putting up with all the crap that is me. I can never thank you enough.