8.30.2011

because we are here

By day, I'm a lawyer. 

(I know.)

As part of my job, I read medical evidence.  Actually, I spend about 80% of my time reading through people's medical records.  These people are strangers, they're people I will never meet, but I sit down every day and rifle through their lives, their secrets.  I know how tall they are, how much they weigh, their eye color.  I know how they're feeling about their marriages, the concerns they have about their children.  I know what medications they take.  I know that their backs ache in the cold, that their skin burns too easily in the sun, that they grow tearful at the mention of their mothers.  I know that they sleep too much, that they won't sleep, that they want to sleep but they can't.  I know the contents of their dreams.  I know about the nightmares.




My job is not fun, exactly.  On the contrary, it's often depressing and tedious.  And on top of that, for a while I succumbed to that predictable first-year-med-student-esque freakout, where I self-diagnosed myself with all sorts of crazy things because - well, because the diagnoses are everywhere.  No matter what I was feeling, I finally had a language to pathologize it.  This was not a good thing: it's like my brain turned into WebMD.  (Hint: the answer is always "cancer.")

Eventually, though, the diagnoses all started to run together, and there was only one thing that remained, one thing that wound like a thread through all the doctor's appointments, all the prescriptions, all the hospital intakes and surgeries and discharges, pulsing like a heartbeat:


we are all so fragile
     we are all so fragile
we are all so fragile
     we are all so fragile
we are all so fragile
     we are all so fragile


We are.

The world is big, and scary, and we are small and precious and easily-broken things: THAT is what these records say.  And some days I come home and I try to forget everything I just read, to forget that we are one car accident or one rogue cell or one tired heartbeat away from everything we know. 

(These are my panicked days.)

And then there are the days when I come home and I am shining, glowing with gratitude and inhaling deeply and feeling dizzy with happiness.  Because we are all so fragile, but we are here.  And this is it.  And every moment of this, this joy, the endless sky and the gold-flecked eyes of the person you love and your own two hands connected to your body connected to your heart connected to your whirring, whirring brain: it's not to be missed.

And that is another reason why I write. 

Because there is so much.

Because there is just so, so much.




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