As awful as it may sound, sometimes it takes a tragedy to truly change us, to help us understand the meaning of life or the significance of appreciating every day that we have. We can see people in pain around us and think, 'Oh, that's terrible,' or 'I feel so sorry for them,' but so often, that response is followed by another thought, typically along the lines of, 'I can't even imagine what they're going through.' Sympathy is often a far cry from empathy.
Dr. Rosen was a brilliant, confident chief resident in the eyes of Jackie, a medical student who worked alongside him for six weeks. He often faced very difficult medical cases and couldn't save every patient he tried to help. Understandably, doctors like David Rosen were at times desensitized. They couldn't always see their patients as good people with loved ones. Facing that reality would make their job so much harder. It wasn't until Dr. Rosen lost his own sister to cancer that he changed- change that was apparent to Jackie simply by the change in his physical demeanor, by the lost light in his eyes. A few years after losing his sister, Dr. Rosen started teaching a seminar titled, "Morality in Medicine: How to Apply the Human Touch to Surgery." His sister's death changed his entire outlook on his career, and on his life.
Rosh Hashanah symbolizes a new year- a time for new beginnings, for change, and for growth. The last few lines of the story alluded to Dr. Rosen's ability to change and reminded me of the most life-changing moment of my life. Like Dr. Rosen, I too have lost a loved one to cancer. After a three year battle, my mother was taken from us five years ago. When tragic things happen in our lives, all of the cliche sayings come out. 'Life's too short.' 'You have to live each day to the fullest.' And while it almost sounds like I'm mocking these sayings, these words really do hold weight. It kills me to think I wasn't living my life this way before my mother passed, and we did share many unforgettable experiences and moments together. But I do know that over the past five years, I've made an effort to live life to the fullest, whether it be by traveling the world with my sister or spending as much time as I can with family members and friends. In other words, living my life the way my mother would have wanted. Now that the New Year is here, I only hope I can continue to savor every moment. I really loved reading this story and appreciate the fact that it forced me to reflect on some of my deepest thoughts and experiences.