I’ve never gone to a reunion before; not high school, college, or until now to medical school. This was my 50th medical school reunion from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, and I really wanted to go.
My adult life began in Syracuse; I got married during the Christmas break of my first year in medical school, and had two children by the time I graduated. We were a small class of 82 people and I knew them all. The last time I saw or spoke with any of them was 50 years ago, when we were freshly minted MD’s. We had survived the fiery baptism that is medical education, with its emotionally and physically exhausting workload, intense pressure, and horrendous hours. This is why physicians are more than twice as likely as non-physicians to kill themselves; some 400 doctors commit suicide in the United States every year, and many during their training years.
Before going to our reunion I wondered…would we recognize each other, could we reconnect with the intimacy of those initiation years. It turned out to be an amazing experience, and the reconnections were easy and intimate (after an initial delay in recognition, since the people we revealed on our nametags were taken at our graduation). About 1/3 of the class showed up (most still married to their first wives); we had become professors, researchers, and practitioners of every specialty.
We talked late into the night at receptions, outings, dinners and bars, where we laughed, cried, and reveled in nostalgia. I was surprised at the intensity of our bonding; perhaps it was the acute awareness of how much everything had changed… from our bodies to the neighborhoods. At the soul level we were still the same characters we always were, and seeing them all reminded me of how important it is to stay connected. Those people and places remind you of what you like best about yourself and that your story is not over; the final chapter has not been written, we are still writing new endings to our stories.
Go with joy on the journey and with my blessings in the Jewish New Year 5775.