I spent last week in Grand Cayman, tagging along on my husband’s conference. It was the same place that we spent our honeymoon, 17 years ago.
Walking on Seven Mile Beach during our last morning on the island, my husband remembered how he felt as a 22-year-old when he was packing up to return home. He would start medical school the very next day. Thinking back to the mountain of hard work ahead: medical school itself, class rankings and decisions about specialties, residency applications and interviews, Match Day, fellowship interviews and placements, more Board exams — written and oral, and finally landing a “real” job… He left the island stressed, considering all of the dedication and determination that it would take to be successful.
I only remember being sad to leave the tropical paradise, but excited to return to our very own tiny, one-bedroom apartment. Excited to return to my modest paycheck and grown-up job, with a boss that I adored. Everything about that chapter in my life was new and thrilling. I loved being a young “wife.” I quickly recognized that our courtship could not have survived the demands of medical school and that my smart husband knew that instinctively. I expected too much attention as a girlfriend, but I was a supportive teammate and our young marriage flourished. He went to school and studied; I went to work, volunteered, trained for races and planned frugal dinner parties with friends. Our calendars were full and happy.
I looked at my husband and commented that I never knew that he felt that way. He had made everything appear effortless from the passenger seat. But, I’m thankful that he made it to the other side of the mountain. In response, he just smiled quietly.
Something tells me that if we are ever lucky enough to return to the island in another 17 years, we’ll have a similar conversation about the last day on the beach. No matter what stage of life you are in, there are always daunting goals ahead and unexpected stresses to manage on the horizon.
In 17 years, our kids will be raised and our youngest will be 22. It took my breath away when I realized that he could be wrapping up his own honeymoon and beginning to climb his own mountain. I hope that all three of my children have the courage to dream and to pursue their goals with focused determination. If they are really lucky, they will also find a wonderful teammate to share the journey. . .