Although I have moments of sadness when I think of my friends and the time that I am no longer spending with them, and my parents whom we cannot see as often, I am so very grateful for the chapter of life that we are living in right now. I have struggled most of my life with genuinely living in the moment, and not only living in it, but experiencing all that it has to offer, giving it all that I can offer, and extracting the joy that inevitably is waiting to be taken from it. I am a planner in the truest form... as a young child I would pretend to breast feed my stuffed animals, place them in a small crib I had for them, or even walk around with them in a child-sized baby carrier. I long to be a mother. In high school I wrote letters upon letters to my future husband, dreaming of where he was, who he was becoming, and all that we would do together. I am so fortunate to be married to my best friend. In college I would wear scrubs and place my stethoscope around my neck, pretending that I already held my RN license. I now feel privileged to hold this title and to be able to care for the little ones that I love so much. And of course now I cannot wait to get out of my scrubs at the end of a long shift and get into "real people clothes." Since I was in high school I have wanted to adopt a child, and thank you Jesus for preparing my heart and Casey's heart for this, as Casey has desired for the same since before we met. Over the past year or so, adoption conversations have increased in frequency and depth as I have been able to share this desire with not only Casey, but two of my dear friends, Shauna and Chandra. Both of them are safe places for me to dream of our babes that we will be able to nurture some day. And Shauna's "some day" is just around the corner... she is currently #1 on the waiting list to receive her sweet babe from Ethiopia! Auntie Chelsea can't wait to meet you and hug you, sweet Maeve! And over the last seven years, minus some time taken for a teaching career detour, Casey and I have been discussing the idea of him becoming a physician. Here we are in Loma Linda, California and what do I find myself sitting next to but a huge stack of medical textbooks and a charcoal gray stethoscope with Casey S. Ward, MD engraved on it. Wow.
So while planning has its place, I want to strive to dwell in the now, because I am a believer in the idea that none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. And it is for this reason that I should with each day strive to love others' with the unconditional love of Jesus, demonstrating compassion, respect, forgiveness and kindness. My life has been in four year blocks for quite some time... four years of high school, four years of college, four years of living in Kirkland and working in Seattle, and now we are jumping into four years of medical school in hot, sweaty Loma Linda. If I think carefully back to each of those four year blocks, they each feel so full of memories and for this I am grateful. And yet simultaneously they feel as though they were only a few weeks long, that they have somehow sped by without my knowing. Perhaps this dichotomy is inevitable, and yet I can't help but feel that I should have slowed down more, enjoying even more what each day in each week, in each month, in each year, in each four year block had to offer.
I take this mixture of feelings forward with me now into this next "chapter," striving to enjoy and learn from each season that we will go through on this journey. I would be naive to think that it will always be easy-- that I will never resent LLU for requiring so much time and energy from my husband, (even though it was our choice to attend!), that I will never question our decision to embark on this journey, that I will never feel lonely, that I will never feel jealous of the other students for getting to spend more awake hours with my husband that I do, etc. And yet while naivete would be the root cause of most of the above feelings, sheer stupidity would be the root cause of a lack of gratefulness and humility, of a thankful spirit for this incredible privilege of attending medical school, and the privilege I have of supporting my best friend through this time. Never do I want to forget the two and a half years that Casey poured himself into receiving an acceptance, and never do I want to forget those of you who supported us, prayed for us, encouraged us, and listened to us when we needed to talk about the stress involved in embarking on this journey. We are so blessed, so honored to have had the support that we have in all of our friends and family. You all have shown us God's love and encouragement through your words and actions; we are humbled by your selflessness, and are ever grateful.
I asked Casey the other night what his greatest fear of starting medical school was, and what he was most excited for. He answered "I am most excited to be able to do what I was made to do." Casey and I believe that we were made to serve our Creator and that one way to do so is to love and serve the people that he has created...everyone. For several years we have had a note that I wrote for Casey taped in one location or another in our bathroom... it reads:
"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant', I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
How grateful we are that we are not on this journey alone.
So if you are holding a glass of some sort, raise it up. Here is a toast to today, to the moment that we are consciously choosing to experience and dwell in. To the day that we have been given... today, not tomorrow. To learning from all moments, even those that may frustrate or hurt us. To looking forward with anticipation, looking backwards with thankfulness, and all the while remembering that the moment we are experiencing right now is a blessing, and to treat it as such!
Hugs from the southern portion of the country,
Chelsea (for Casey and I both) :)