On a letter from past self and to future self, twice again

Dear Past Eugene,

I read what you wrote with some curiosity. While I have maintained the writing practice, I feel like it is more of a low-key journal. I feel that I haven’t written anything worthy of reading for weeks.

No flowery stories of memorable patient interactions. Just the drudgery of seeing patients week-in and week-out. Trying to make it to the next PTO.

Part of that is the increased responsibilities. When you wrote to me, with Mackenzi at 8mo pregnant, you had only a small inkling of the looming challenges ahead. Some were foreseeable: interview season, the birth of your son, wrapping up medical school, beginning residency, and making a new home.

Others, less so. How could I explain the constant struggle to return home as quickly as possible, to spend time with a baby and avoid spending time for myself? The physiological need to talk shop with Mackenzi about all the wackiness we see in the hospital? And how rarely we get to enjoy a simple two-day weekend together?

Things were far simpler back in your day. The imperative was clear: finish medical school, get into residency, bring a healthy baby into the world.

Now that those goals have been achieved, life is far more blurry. As if we have crested a hill, after much struggle and gnashing of the teeth, only to realize there are only more mountaintops ahead, each with higher and higher peaks.

The old saying, “I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders,” feels quite true these days.

In closing, I imagine what I would say to myself on the cusp of Joonsu’s birth. I will not give you advice.

Instead, I will simply say:
Thus far, it is all worth it.

I hope and I know that is enough to get you through the darkest days.

Best,
Current Eugene


Dear Future Eugene,

When you read this, you will be essentially halfway done with residency. Does that sound about right? Joonsu will likely be talking up a storm. Mackenzi will be deep in her FMS rotations and likely unable to spend too much time with either you or the baby. I hope I am wrong.

I wonder what the home looks like. Who is there? Has Mackenzi’s family found some level of stability? How has your nephew entered the world? Is Honey still pooping on the floor?

We have so much odd stability in this time of change. We have a home in which to grow. We have a baby who will continue to learn and play and exhaust us all. We have rotations to attend and clinical pearls to learn. I can imagine the broad strokes of what your life will look and feel like, but I also have trouble imagining the details.

Is Joonsu attending daycare? Have we begun searching for local schools? Have you figured out what Mackenzi will do for our PGY-4? Have we forgotten enough about pregnancy and the early sleepless nights to think about another child?

I wonder what your movement practice looks like. I wonder if we ever return to grappling, or if we dive into parkour. Have we been making good use of our wonderful home gym? Or has the dad bod taken hold?

Are you more engaged spiritually? Have you been maintaining the gatherings, for your college friends and for your extended family? Have you been spending too much time indoors, like I have? Or are you able to engage with nature, maybe attempt to hunt?

I have little to say to you, but much to ask. I want to know. The coming years will hold so much for our growing family. I want a peek; just a small glimpse of the challenges, heartaches, and triumphs ahead.

And yet, I know that would spoil the gift of the present.

Best,
Current Eugene


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