And I sat in the endless row of 260-some graduates of my medical school and I listened to name after name, compared notes with M who was sitting next to me. We were at our first center together, we are not-quite-friends but we are kind to each other. I have stayed at his apartment when I needed a place to go; he finds in me a political confidant of sorts. We spoke, softly, laughed, gave a glance at the program to see where each familiar face (not all of them, only some in our class of so many were people we knew) was going. He will be transitioning for a year, then to anaesthesia. Different worlds.
They introduced each of us as "doctor" as we walked across the stage, stood to be hooded, continued to receive our diploma tubes. It had a strange and somehow familiar ring, although I remembered it differently: Doctora. Doctor. Docere, Latin, to teach. This degree has its roots in teaching, though our modified Hippocratic Oath no longer containes a promise to teach those who wish to learn free of charge. And I was reminded today, yesterday, all days, that I must be a teacher - of medicine, of humanity, of love and compassion and humility - if I am to fulfill the promise of my charter.
Angel is proud of me, so very proud that his eyes shine with it; his voice softens when he congratulates me. It makes me glad. I am standing in the pictures beside a man who has fought with me and for me, held me up when I needed it and reminded me of my essential humanity when that was in danger. He has wiped my tears and held my hand as I wept for wasted lives and ones well-lived. He has listened to my rambling lectures on esoteric topics and he has learned when I lectured, I do not have to repeat myself very often. I have an extraordinary husband and he too will do extraordinary things. We shall see.
So much to do now, I must get to phone calling.