This vacation has been much needed to decompress, de-stress, refocus, and recharge. It has also been useful to help me re-center myself find an inner peace again. I've been so off-balance the past 4-5 months it's scary.
This morning, just before waking up, I had a dream. Bear with me for a while. In this dream, I was seeing maybe a 16-year-old black/Latino teen in clinic. He had a history of cancer, now in remission. He was complaining of abdominal pain and had a large laparatomy-type scar. I do my exam and summon my attending. She brings in another attending, who cuts open the surgical scar to peek underneath (this never happens in real life, btw). His organs looked good but we were shocked to not find any rectus muscles or even a peritoneal sheathe. The attending closes him up, wraps his abdomen with bandages, and send him to the procedure room where I would suture/staple his wound close.
He manages to hobble over there, obviously in some pain. I gather my supplies and head over there. I enter the room to find him face-down on the ground, barely conscious. I run over to him, turn him over, and check the ABCs (airway, breathing, and cardiac). He was breathing and had a pulse, but was in some pain. The first attending stopped by the door where I call a code. She goes off to assemble a quick team (this also never happens in real life, an attending won't just up and leave like that). It being the end of the day, practically no one was around. It was just me and this teen, barely conscious, in pain, but breathing and heart beating.
A respiratory therapist comes by and gives me a bag and mask, which at that point my patient stops breathing. I resuscitate him with the bag and mask, while checking his pulse. A third-year resident comes by and assesses the situation, and by now my patient has regained consciousness. I was able to give him some pain meds, staple his wound close, and send him out the door (also doesn't happen in real life, you don't send a critical person home).
Although unrelated, something about that dream triggered a moment of clarity and an inner peace. I realized that I must have been, in some way and to some degree, in love with my friend (who's been mentioned a few times now). This was why I dwelt on him for so long, why it felt like a slow painful heartbreak. What we had shared in the past felt right, and may have been right at that time. But not now. Not when we're on opposite coasts and there's an age gap and he has a boyfriend. Perhaps he too felt this tug, and decided to cut off contact to "rip off the bandage" as it were and get it over with. I will likely never know. But I'm at peace with it now.
Why should I cling to something so ephemeral when reality dictates that it wasn't meant to last? I will always remember the friendship we had shared and that time together. I'm okay that he's decided to close contact on his end, but I may still intermittently send him a warm text or message. I'm okay being a friend in the shadows, available if/when he decides to contact me again.
I feel, for the first time since all this started, I can move on yet still hold on to what we had.
P.S. Bonus points to whoever catches the reference in the deviantART pic shown above.