Monday, October 29, 2012

[Music Mondays]: I Deserve

As salaam alaikum,

Nothing much. I just looked at my gchat status, which read, "Just smile for me and let the day begin," and looked at my smiling face opposite the status. It was a picture where I was tired like I am now, a third year medical student on my my medicine rotation, with more moisturized, healthier hair than I've had in a while. It was a sweet face. As much as I do admire myself when I look in the mirror, I can't say I've ever thought of myself before. And coupled with those words, all I could think was,

"I deserve to be loved."

"Just smile for me and let the day begin," is the opening stanza to Jeffrey Osborne's  "On the Wings of Love." This was one of my first favorite songs...probably third, actually. My first favorite song was "Stand by Me," by Ben E. King, especially the violin interlude. I must have been under five when I liked this song. My second favorite song was, "With You," by Tony Terry, when I was six.

When I was seven, "On the Wings of Love" was my favorite. I remember sitting on the beige couch in the living room of my childhood home, my legs hanging over the edge and not reaching the floor beneath my feet. My family didn't have our first CD player yet, not for a few more months. It was 1992. My parents were going through their records and playing songs. For some reason, they decided to play, "On the Wings of Love." I heard the song and I was instantly transfixed. I loved it. The song was 10 years old at that point, but I didn't know. I just knew it was the most beautiful song I'd ever heard, and I asked my parents to play it again, and a third time. I listened to it and stared at the dark wood paneling of our family room with a feeling of transcendence, contentment, exhilaration, like I was let into a secret at that moment that everyone comes to know in life.

And it wasn't really the lyrics. At seven, I wasn't worried about love. Not as worried as I would be at 12, maybe because of growing up with lyrics like these. But not at 7. It was the instrumentation, it was the vocals, it was sitting between my parents and them both liking the song, and me being one of them. One of the lovers of this song. It was everything at once. It was childhood being so full and new and replete for me, it was the contrast of the twinges of embarrassment I felt from my brother with autism sometimes, it was tension in the string cords, it was a pop song that was fully orchestrated like they already weren't anymore.

All things I wasn't able to put into words at 7.

It would be my favorite song until I was about 19, even after Janet got lonely, after Lauryn reminded us not to forget the deen, until Stevie suggested that I, too, should be overjoyed, the first time I would identify so completely with lyrics of a love song.

I had a hard night last night. I think the nearby recent seismic activity set a lot of women in labor. Or it was a full moon. Whatever the reason, I worked nonstop from 11:00pm to 8:30am. I saw 8 women in triage, pushed with and assisted 2 deliveries, and tended to my laboring women. I put so much into my work that I sometimes feel emotionally drained at the end of a day. I came home feeling like retreating into myself and not coming out. I imagined not talking to my friends and co-residents anymore, only being present when social activities were required. Working removes completely one of my dimensions, the dimension in which I most often reside at rest. There's little energy left for that dimension after work.

I was tired, but before I went to sleep, before I could start feeling sorry for myself and before I could, once again, begin to despise myself, I saw the Jeffrey Osborne lyric on my status, and though I know the lyric well, I had to see it completed.

And then I saw my face next to it. My tired, smiling face, probably like how I looked for much of the night. And for the first time in my life, I had a glimpse for just a few seconds of how I must look on the outside, to others.

I don't know if it was the depersonalizing experience of being a physician or the fact that I took two Benadryl just before and was getting sleepy.

Music sounds different when you're sleepy and in the dark, by the way.

But that was a sweet face of a sweet girl. And how sweet that you hover over my status and see my smiling face and get the message "Just smile for me and let the day begin." Even though most will not get the reference.

And I looked at that girl with that face and knowing as much about her as I do, all I could think was, "You deserve to be loved."

And I've never been able to say that about myself before. And I've never felt it so sincerely.

And I'm not talking about up and above the clouds love like Jeffrey belts about. Just love. Because life is precious, and by extension, so am I, and independently, by God's grace, so am I.

I can only imagine how I looked putting my hands over my patients contracting belly, breathing deeply with her, closing my eyes ans I felt the contraction to feel its strength, to evaluate her labor, and all I can think is, she deserves to be loved.

I can only imagine how I looked pulling my patient's newborn son from the birth canal, setting him on her chest on the blanket laid out by the nurse as his red lips trembled and mom trembled and as I trembled as I collected cord blood and I think, she deserves to be loved.

So, just smile for me and let my day begin. I really do love a smile.


  1. "I deserve to be loved"... I might have to tell myself that more often. Great post, I think it highlights the really beautiful part of what you do.