Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Couldn't have said it better

Sometimes you feel things that bounce around in your head for ages, never really coming out in any sort of coherent way, until someone else figures out a way to say it for you. That's what happened here:

The Resident’s Wife

I miss you.
My companion. Love. Friend.
You’re never here.
But then you are, but not you.
Hollow. Lights dimmed.
Physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.
Then pieces of you shine through,
And I have renewed hope.
Then you’re gone again.
The sign above our bed taunts me daily,
“P.S. I love your laughter,
And I love the way you make me laugh.”
We did laugh once, right?
I miss you.

My life seems busy. But not.
I fill it with things to help me feel busy.
It pales in comparison to your daily dread.
Fighting, disobedient kids.
Dinner to cook.
Laundry. Groceries. Bills.
A house to clean.
Schedules to keep.

Monotonous? Yes.
Dull? Possibly.
Frustrating? Sometimes.

But there’s no one looking over my shoulder,
Watching my moves and critiquing my care.
No one waiting for me to make a mistake
And ready to sue.
Or criticize at my first falter.
No one competing with me to impress.
Well, maybe a few.
But only rarely do I have the fear that
I might mess up and truly ruin a life.
For a doctor, that fear is omnipresent.
Babies to deliver. Watching new life. And first breaths.
But also seeing death.
Suffering and grief.
Pain. And sorrow. And Fear.


Wounds to treat. Patients to heal.

You’re tired, so I’m tired.
If you’re miserable, I must be miserable, too.
Why should I be happy when my other half appears ruined?
“Just a few more weeks. Then a new rotation.”
“Just a few more years, then residency will be over.”
Will it be better?
Worth it?
At what cost?
The kids have stopped asking if you’ll be home for dinner.
I miss you.

You’re jealous of me. I get to have a hobby. And exercise.
Does it make you love me less?
Are you angry when the house isn’t clean?
When you wake at 3:50 am,
Do you stand over me lovingly?
Or do you resent that my alarm will be silent for another 3 hours?
I resent it for you.

Four days off per month is criminal.
80 hours? Ha.
Paperwork not included.

Holidays have no meaning.
Just another time to be reminded that other families are together.
Like weekends.
I only look for 4 chairs at church.
Remember church?
But you and I, we are still faithful at saying our prayers.
Do they count if you fall asleep during them?
And when you’re away, our prayers here always include,
“Please let daddy have a good day at work.
Please help him be a good doctor and to be happy.”
And I silently beg and plead that you will not fall asleep while driving.
The kids include, “Please let him come home early.”
And, “We miss him.”
They know.
I miss you.

No days off this week.
But we will savor those minutes from 7:15 to 8:15 pm
That the children have to jump on you and love you.
And I will try again to make you laugh.
And then watch you sleep.
And pray again that somehow He will make 6 hours
Of rest be sufficient for your tired body.

It will get better.
It will be worth it. It has to be.
I’m so proud of you.
Do I tell you enough? Do you believe me?
I know other people need you.
They need your naturally skilled hands.
They need the knowledge you’ve worked years to acquire.
They need your comfortable, easy attitude and manner.
They love you, too.
I will share.
But I miss you.

This was written by a woman named Charlie whose husband was in medical school with J.** We met once or twice**, and she seems lovely, but now I feel like she might have taken up residence in our attic, having described our reality so perfectly.

**Editor's note: These statements are completely untrue. The mistaken identity is being attributed to mom brain. Charlie, however, is real and she did write the poem. You can read it and her other musings here.


  1. Hi there! Thanks for visiting, and thanks for sharing my poem. I'd love a link to my blog included somewhere in the post. :)

    Sounds like we'd be friends if you lived somewhere near me! But we were in San Fran for med school, so you must be mistaking me for someone else. I've always thought I looked plain enough to be easily confused with others, though. ;)


    1. Ack! Sorry for the mistaken identity - upon further reflection the woman I was thinking of was named Shauna...but not to worry, you're still welcome in my attic. :) And consider yourself linked!