You yearn to escape unscathed
as daylight erodes the bleakest night.
Vaccines on the horizon met with a foreign feeling-
But it is too late. She is gone.
Empty promises of protection proved fallible
because even wildflowers wilt in the sun.
She died alone. A numbing statistic.
A lifetime in color now gray memories
wondering when last they talked.
Could he sense when her breathing
For what are wildflowers without bees?
What brings light to leafless trees?
There is no Luis without June.
And she is gone. So he left too.
Forevermore. A numbing statistic.
Completing my first year of medical school during a pandemic, I had to learn to be adaptable. I have heard the word “Pivot” more times this year than I think many people might hear in a lifetime. The year was speckled with brief patient encounters, but I was unable to connect with a patient in a way that I felt I could represent their story with fidelity.
However, my first year was much smoother than that of my friend, an MS1 at Texas Christian University and University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Medicine, Lauren Moore. Her story captivated my attention and helping her through the pandemic is something that I will take with me throughout my career, which is why I decided to dedicate my piece to the story of her grandparents.
June and Luis were the ideal couple, the healthcare heroes you hear about on the news. June was a labor and delivery nurse who enjoyed sewing, creating her art out of the experiences she carried with her. Luis was a physician who worked hard to develop new screening tests for prostate cancer. He loved spending time on long walks watching birds, taking in their intricate anatomy and how it compared to the human body he knew so well. Living out their years together, they appreciated the little things in life.
They died within three weeks of each other. Alone.
I worked with my friend to create a piece to capture the feelings she felt navigating the complex medical system while losing two grandparents in an instant. This is a companion piece to two poems she wrote, originally published in the Association of American Medical Colleges Creative Expressions During Times of Uncertainty series.
About the Artist: Braylee Grisel
I wanted to be an artist before I wanted to be a doctor. An animator specifically. Throughout undergrad, I worked as a graphic designer while completing a minor in general art. I love the freedom that art gives you to express emotions when the words just cannot suffice. As future physicians, we cannot afford to forget the human side of the work that we do. I believe that humanities and the arts help create a more ethical and conscientious physician workforce by ensuring that we always remember the powerful emotions that our patients deal with every day. I hope that as I grow in my career, I will never give up on the artistic self-reflection that has helped me explore my sense of humanity and become a more empathetic person. I appreciate SCOPES for providing a structure for students to explore their artistic expression and learn to truly hear and feel for our patients in a meaningful way.