Risky. It feels risky. It feels necessary but scary, like standing at the edge of a ski slope after taking a long ride to the top. It feels like getting into a small metal box to be pulled over a river in rural Peru using a rope pulley, or like the weight of a parent’s eyes as you push a needle into their sick child’s spine. It feels like choosing to show up.
Privileged, it feels privileged. It feels like dozens of teachers showing me the way forward, like years of education, like a partner who works to support us so I can continue training, like the warmth of a patient’s hand as they grasp mine to shake it, calling me “doctor”.
Relief. It feels like relief, like biting into a gumball and having it give way between your teeth. It feels like solving a math problem. It feels like a sip of tea, when the warmth floods your whole body. It feels like a hug from a sticky-fingered toddler.
On my way out the door, I ask the police officer standing watch how he feels after a day of witnessing this. He says, simply, “joy.”
For all of these reasons, I feel like crying.
Emily Pinto Taylor, M.D., is an internist and pediatrician, and a clinical fellow in geriatric medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine.