On a date night (or a meditation on webs of support and fruits of labor)

On Friday night, we enjoyed together our first extended (2+hrs) trip away from Joonsu and Honey.

This was Mackenzi’s first long trip away from Joonsu, I’ve had a few on my own, so we had been anticipating this evening with great relish. However, the weather decided to play a role in our plans. On Saturday, our original date night, a projected cold front would roll through the east coast with temperatures dropping to the single digits. So on Thursday, we rejiggered and requested care for Joonsu at the last minute.

Thankfully, the evening came together wonderfully.

We loved our date night. We laughed in retrospect: we went to a dingy YMCA in town. Initially, we thought about a couples massage or maybe a float. Dinner in a restaurant for sure, but maybe a movie beforehand. Logistically, timing an appointment with so many moving parts became prohibitive to a relaxed tone for the evening, so we decided to head to a gym and lift some heavy things.

We planned on moving and working up a sweat, then transitioning to the saunas to purge the junk we’ve built up over the past weeks. However, the ladies’ sauna had been blocked off for the warming shelter. So once we finished a lovely movement session, we headed over to the nearest bookstore to peruse the shelves before they closed.

As the PA system announced final call for sales, we met up at the front of the store. Both of us with a bundle of books: Mackenzi with the picture books, myself with drier texts to read aloud to Joonsu. Then, to dinner at our favorite Indian food in the Valley.

Finally, with our bellies full, we made our way back home. Upon arrival, we found our friends gleefully bouncing and admiring our son. After some tea and conversation, they left and we made our way to sleep.

And right when we recharged our batteries, loved ones received challenging news. Realities not meeting expectations. Long held dreams lost.

In most cases, we did little more than reach out and offer support. Sometimes that is all you can do when the best balm is time. Having the emotional reserve to keep those humans in our mind is a wonderful gift. One that was gifted to us because we have a web of love surrounding us. When one side of the network pulls to almost breaking, the other side can push and create slack.

This date night served a gentle reminder that we do not have a right to the fruits of our labor. We have worked so hard to get to this place of relative comfort with Joonsu. Learning the dance of responsibilities. This process is rewarding in and of itself. Others may support us in order that we can support others. Our labor may yield fruit, but it is not for us to enjoy. Others feed us so that we may feed others.

And this web of love will change dramatically very soon. Our class of peers has drifted in and out of the Lehigh Valley over this tumultuous final year of medical school. And they will scatter to the wind, save for a few, in less than a season’s time.

The fruits are on the vine and they will wilt and fall to the earth soon. Our friends want to help us and spend time with our little man. We will reap as much as we can carry with our own two hands. Idleness will not be the reason these fruits go to waste.

I feel that I’m entering this reflective and grateful place because I know that my dedicated time at home is ending. Three whole months at home with nothing to do but love and be loved. A paternity leave the likes of which I will never see again.

In two short, precious weeks, I will return to the hospital for morning rounds and conversations with patients and providers. The hardest part of my day will no longer be hearing Joonsu’s gassy cries. I will listen as people tell me about their challenges, their despairs, and their hopes.

And perhaps those conversations and peeks into the lives of others will give me renewed appreciation for my quiet home full of love.

Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

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