Finish well.

08 May 2016

It’s something we hear a lot this time of year; push through, it’s almost the end, you’ve got this, finish well.  We’re in the last two miles of the marathon, trying to find the energy to keep putting one foot in front of the other, cheered on by our families and supporters and the hope of a coming holiday.

I don’t feel like I am finishing particularly well.  I actually feel like I am on my hands and knees, gasping for breath, finding the last portion of grit and determination in the depths of my soul to make it to the finish line regardless of how bloodied my knees are from crawling there.   But I will not give up, I will make it, and then I will collapse into the goodness that is rest in the form of a holiday with a friend in the mountains of southern France.  I wish I was finishing better; I wish I was still running and smiling and looking forward to the after party.  I’ve said yes to too many things this year, cramming too much in the last miles of the race.  I see it and I own it and I plan to do things a bit differently next year, but for now, survival is the word.

But if I can take my eyes off myself and my little story and my bleeding knees and my weary heart; if I can move beyond the selfish pity party wallowing and look up, look around, and look back; if I open my eyes and really see what has been accomplished in the last ten months, I am in awe.  The lame that now walk, the dignity restored, the outcast welcomed back home again.  The nurses that have learned to ease pain and comfort their patients, the midwives who get to breathe life into newborns and hand them alive, pink and screaming, not blue and limp, to their new mammas, the surgeons who can continue to bring hope to the patient who once had none.  The operating rooms that now offer safer surgery, across the country.  The anesthetist who was so excited to tell me how, because of what she had learned in a course, she was able to save a life and taught all her colleagues how to do it, too. The hundreds and thousands of lives that have been touched by a common purpose; to bring hope and healing. 

And we aren’t done yet.

Four weeks until I wave goodbye to Madagascar for what I hope isn’t the last time in my life; this stunning place was never on my radar or list of places I wanted to visit, but now has become a part of who I am.  Three weeks left for patients on the ward, two weeks of surgery, one more training course. There will be lots of goodbyes and thank-yous and celebrations; lots of final reports to write, connections to make, and plans to finalize for our arrival to Benin in August.  I’ve got a few more cities and hospitals to visit; a few more flights and hotels and details to sort out.  I’m still managing not to flunk out of grad school, which seems miraculous in itself some days, so will need to keep that going as well. It's full, but it's beautiful, and I hope that I can keep my eyes up on the beauty of it all. 

Thank you, friends, family, supporters, readers; I couldn’t make it to the end of this marathon without you.

Sunset over Tana, May 5 2016


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