Today is my last full in Dunedin. The words, so matter-of-factly written, belie a deep sadness in my heart.
This is the store Wine Freedom; hands down the best wine store I know. Yes, the wines there are outstanding, but more importantly it’s run by Paul Williams, who is just the most knowledgeable (wine) person I’ve every known, and to boot he is a gem of a guy. Who was the first person to ensure I had a ride to the airport tomorrow? Paul was, and tomorrow he (and his little daughter Serin) are the ones taking me there for my send off. I went to Paul’s store twice this week (that’s a lot, even for me), looking for the perfect wines to take home with me. It was like I was trying infuse a little of Nz into a bottle, to savour at a later date when I’m in California and missing my little Dunedin. I know it won’t be the same, but next week I will be sitting outside on our patio in the warm California sun, and sipping a Central Otago Pinot……just trying to hold on to this slice of heaven just a little longer.
A little more about the heart; CS Lewis wrote this about love:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love at all is to be vulnerable.”
It was no secret I was leaving the hospital. Nor was my favorite Friday afternoon haunt, Ombrellos, a secret.
So my fellow consultant colleagues took me there for lunch on Thursday; a cool blustery day with intermittent hail, but there we were by the fire inside enjoying a warm lunch.
From left to right, Tracey, Elizabeth, Shelley, Dion, and then some guy who forgot to shave. You can tell whose on call, because they have their phone near by…
I struggled through Friday….so many goodbyes….so many “We don’t want you to leave” comments. But I knew 5pm would roll around soon, which was good, because it meant I was going back to Umbrellos. The registrars had organized a little goodbye party for Friday evening and as we arrived, one by one, we still had some work to do (here, we’re doing sign outs…)
My kind of work environment! After a few hours at Umbrellos, were sufficiently hydrated, and then we all went out for Indian food. Reshma (front row, to my immediate left) did the ordering (she’s from India, after all). And, I got invited to her wedding! (so did everyone). She promised there would be an elephant. She just needs a groom.
What’s astounding is the diversity of the registrars. Here are the countries where my registrars are from: Ireland, New Zealand, England, Oman, India, Sri Lanka, and Saudi Arabia. We talked and talked….it was an amazing evening. But as big as those smiles are, the photo was taken at the end of our evening, and that meant more goodbyes. It was so difficult to say goodbye. So much pain.
Today, I woke to a beautiful sunrise. It was like Dunedin was teasing me.
Eion and I had a squash game early this morning (no, it wasn’t easy getting up this am); you gotta love a hospital with a squash court. After squash, I had a quick coffee from the hospital coffee stand, ‘The Dispensary’ (one of the best in town). Their pastries are pretty good too!
Then Eion, his partner Sarah (who is my current registrar) and I went to the Good Oil (the BEST breakfast place in town) for a last breakfast together.
It was a beautiful day in Dunedin; bright blue sky and 15C. Yep, Dunners (what people here call Dunedin) was teasing me!
And this all brings me around to matter of the heart.
Why does it hurt so much to leave? It hurts because I opened my heart and I let Nz, and the people of Dunedin, in my heart. I loved the people here. Like this week, I took care of a woman who came to the hospital for back pain; she was older (about 90) and brought in by her granddaughter. It didn’t take us long, and we found she had widely spread cancer. We explained what we had found to them; they listened and nodded. And then they thanked us for letting them know what was wrong. And they asked us if WE were Ok. That it must be hard telling someone they have cancer. Yes, that’s right, they were making sure we were OK (we said we were, and then focused back on them).
Its hurts to leave because the house officers and registrars truly appreciate teaching (as evidenced by the goodbye dinner last night)….that, and they begged me not to leave. And they don’t just say they appreciate the teaching; they stay late just to get extra teaching (this week several times staying at the hospital until after 7pm just to hear me lecture).
So, my heart was open, and I let all that is Nz and all that is Dunedin in. It was wonderful while I was here, and it hurts like hell to leave. Tonight it’s the worst. I will leave this wonderful place tomorrow, but a big part of heart will be here in Dunedin. I’ll take the pain, though, because the alternative is a heart locked safely away, and I never want that.
It’s like jumping off the bridge…you just have to let go of what seems safe….go all in….open yourself to something new.
For now, goodbye frm Dunedin.