***Disclaimer: This blog post is probably gonna be a bit more rough around the edges than my usual posts. I like to spend ample time editing my posts, but not this one. I don’t know why- I just feel like that’s the thing to do here***
The proverbial “they” say that hindsight is 20/20. This can be a blessing and a curse. Today has become a day routinely filled with hindsight for me, more so than most people. I mean, nearly everyone likes to use NYE to reflect on the past year (i.e. hindsight) and then look forward to the next year with great hope and ambition that will be gone within 3-7 days most likely (sorry to put a buzzkill on your resolutions… just speaking the truth here…) Anyways, today has become filled with even more hindsight for me because it marks the day of my dad’s death. I woke up today with the same uneasiness that this day always greets me with. It’s become an inevitable part of this day. Sure, the uneasiness gets a little less every year, but it’s still there. I woke up at 7:58am, and my first thought was “in exactly two minutes from now, 8 years ago today I was woken up by my mom screaming my name.” I remembered the exact pitch of her voice. I couldn’t help but relive those awful few minutes. The hardest part of today is that it forces me to have hindsight. The 20/20 hindsight taunts my former self where my vision in the moment was not 20/20. While I don’t blame myself for my dad’s death, this day forces me to relive the day before my dad’s death. He thought he may be having a pulmonary embolism but brushed it off. I didn’t press him further. He was going to get it looked at after the weekend. He didn’t have until after the weekend. In hindsight, it’s obvious what ailed my dad. In the moment I was a naïve, new third year med student. I had never seen a patient with a PE before. I had no idea. What you don’t know that you don’t know is what hurts you the most because that’s when 20/20 hindsight will taunt you the most.
Eventually, my mind slowly drifted into this crazy journey of grieving. It really is the journey that never ends. It gets easier. It gets more tolerable. But it never goes away. You never graduate from it. You never stop this journey, even though you never really wanted to start the journey in the first place. As I lay in bed, I had the image of a large asteroid that suddenly rocks your world and leaves a huge crater. The crater starts off jagged, steep, tough to navigate, and painful, but slowly and surely, as time goes on the edges become more rounded, the territory becomes more familiar, and in some places some plants and flowers may even start to grow. But the crater is still there. It’s not going anywhere. It can’t really go anywhere.
As I progressed throughout my day, I realized that 2020 marks the end of a decade, which led me to reflect on this past decade. It’s amazing to see what this decade has given me, and I feel so incredibly blessed… I started as a newly graduated college student, stumbled my way into medical school against my will (until the last minute that is), navigated residency, completed fellowship, started my career as an orthopaedic surgeon, met my future wife, saw our relationship crumble, saw the Lord’s redemption in our relationship and the relationships with my family members… and those are only the headlines. That old 20/20 hindsight can seem pretty sweet now. In hindsight, going to medical school was 100% the right choice. Marrying my wife was 100% the right choice. Seeing the Lord’s purposes and provision in all the struggles throughout the process makes it all 100% worth it (and for the areas where I haven’t been able to see his purposes, I know they are there, and I trust him for that).
So yeah, as much as I love to focus on the future, I think you’re only kidding yourself if you never look back. Sure, you can’t live in the past, and you can’t let the past hold you back. As much as it pains me that I theoretically could have saved my dad, I also have to remind myself that if it had been the Lord’s will for me to do so, then that most assuredly would have happened. I serve a God who doesn’t need to have hindsight. He’s the Alpha and Omega- the Beginning and the End. His vision is always 20/20. I rest in that truth. I trust in that fact. I find peace in my God. It’s not a crutch, and it’s not a coping mechanism as some have accused. It’s the truth of the God I serve. So as I get ready to face 2020 and the next decade, I’m thankful that through the lens of Christ, I can always trust my Savior, Jesus Christ, who always has 20/20 vision. Happy New Year!!