The Medical Commencement Archive

“Collaboration and Curiosity” – Dr. Huda Zoghbi, University of Massachusetts 2018 Commencement

Dr. Zoghbi delves into her speech by stating “regardless of your individual path to this day, there is one thing I can predict about your future: it won’t be what you expect.” Then, she proceeds to share a moving account of her journey through life and medicine interweaved with four main points of advice on how to handle the unexpected. A major encompassing theme is to be open to and appreciative of the human relationships formed during one’s path in the medical field, especially during times of hardship.

First, have a plan, but be flexible within that plan. There will be storms in the ocean that is your life and you have to learn to surf each wave as it comes. My drive to be a physician was strong, and that kept me going to medical school through four years, two countries, and one war. But the people close to me—my mentors Ralph, Marv, and Art, and my husband William—helped me see more clearly what it was that I really wanted to do. They taught me and they helped me to listen to that little voice inside that so often gets drowned out by the noise of obligations and the fear of leaving a well-trodden path. Listen to that inner voice.

Second, listen to other people, too. Listen to your patients and their families. The single biggest complaint I hear from people about healthcare nowadays is that their physician or nurse is looking at a screen instead of at them. We all want to make a difference in peoples’ lives, but sometimes the best thing we can offer our patients is our respectful attention. Thinking back to the first girls I saw with Rett, why were so many diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a diagnosis that would have been apparent at birth, when the girls were perfectly healthy the first year of life? The diagnosis didn’t fit; only a physician who didn’t trust the parents and didn’t trust their own eyes would try to make it fit. Or, thinking back to SCA1, why would each generation of a family develop more severe disease at an earlier age than their parents’ generation? Now we know the answer is a dynamic mutation, but at the time it was a puzzle. Pay attention to the reality in front of you, not the rules and models you learned in school. In 20 years, much of what you learned here will no longer be valid—so keep an open mind, and you might be one of the people who brings forth new knowledge to share with others.

Third, develop resilience. We are not born with patience, and perseverance doesn’t come into play until we meet circumstances in which it is possible to give up. Resilience is like a muscle. Hard times are never fun, but they’re the way we develop character.

Fourth and most important, cherish your relationships. You will have noticed that at each crucial juncture in my life there have been people who gave me opportunities. Meharry Medical College was willing to break the rules to let me transfer in mid-stream. My mentors and my patients opened my eyes and then opened their hearts to me. My collaborators and my trainees have made my career a joy. My husband William, who is a cardiologist with his own demanding career, has made our home a stress-free zone and helped me raise two beautiful children. Many other people have had a profound influence on me, and I have tried to honor their gifts by being generous in turn. I believe with all my heart that my strong relationships have enabled me to achieve the success and the happiness I’ve reached in my life.

As you reflect on your own paths, I am sure you can identify those who helped you get to this point. If there are fewer such people than you would like, then make it a goal to strengthen your relationships. Choose friends and loved ones who will help you become more resilient, pay closer attention, and listen to your own best self.”

Read the full speech in the Commencement Archive:

About Dr. Huda Zoghbi

Huda Zoghbi is the Ralph D. Feigin Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, where she is also professor of Neuroscience and Molecular and Human Genetics. She has been an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1996. She is also the founding Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital. Zoghbi’s interest is in understanding healthy brain development as well as what goes awry in specific neurological conditions. She has published seminal work on the cause and pathogenesis of Rett syndrome and late-onset neurodegenerative diseases, and has trained many scientists and physician-scientists and is a member of several professional organizations and boards. She has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among Dr. Zoghbi’s recent honors are the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize from Rockefeller University, the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, Canada Gairdner International Prize, and Honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Harvard University and from the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The Medical Commencement Archive

“The Chapters to Come” – Dr. Carl Nathan, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences 2018 Commencement

Dr. Carl Nathan kept his speech short and sweet during the 2018 Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences Commencement. Dr. Nathan was trained in internal medicine and oncology at Mass General Hospital, the National Cancer Institute and Yale before becoming a staff member at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. He has been a distinguished professor at Cornell University for over 3 decades, and current R.A. Rees Pritchett Professor and chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Dr. Carl Nathan makes his speech all about the impact the MD graduates have had on the people around them, including their parents, friends, and professors, and the impact they will have on the future of the medical field:

“You have given us new knowledge from your own minds and hands. You have given us fresh evidence that the prospects for scientific discovery are limitless. You’ve shown us that being the first to see something reproducible or to explain something mysterious brings as much joy and fulfilment as when van Leeuwenhoek first saw “wee beasties” through a microscope and Marie Curie discovered radium and thought of using it to treat cancer.

You’ve given us reassurance that no matter our inadequacies as teachers, your brilliance and resourcefulness let you absorb exponentially growing amounts of information with no sign of a limit to what the prepared mind can master.

Finally, in a troubled time, you’ve proven again that science is a form of communication that sifts fake from real and connects rather than divides, that creates a community transcending region, religion and origin. Many of you took precious hours from your pressured lives to share that message with children in the city around you.

What will you go on to give the world from your coming positions in colleges, universities, biotech, pharma, other businesses, foundations or public service?

You will help shed light on the unknown. Help cure disease. Help make cures accessible to those in need. Some of you will help create wealth. Help see that wealth distributed fairly. Help teach those who come up after you.

All of you can help defend the role of apolitical reason and scientific evidence in civic life and public policy. Help save this earth, its peoples and the diverse forms of life with which we share our climate, oceans, forests and fields.

The diploma you are about to receive is a symbol of the power you’ve proved that you have. Go use your power wisely. Then come back and tell us what you’ve done. Like your parents, partners, family and friends, your teachers and advisors are proud of the stories you are writing with your lives. All of us are eager to hear the chapters to come. ”

Read the full speech in the Commencement Archive:

About Dr. Nathan

Carl Nathan, MD is R.A. Rees Pritchett Professor and chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College. After graduation from Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, he trained in internal medicine and oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, the National Cancer Institute and Yale before joining the faculty of The Rockefeller University from 1977-1986. At Cornell since 1986, he has served as Stanton Griffis Distinguished Professor of Medicine, founding director of the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program, senior associate dean for research and acting dean. For eighteen years he co-chaired the Program in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University, where he is now the dean. Nathan led the planning team for the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute and is a now a member of its Board of Directors. Tri-I TDI is a not-for-profit corporation owned by Weill Cornell Medical College, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and The Rockefeller University. Nathan is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, associate scientific director of the Cancer Research Institute, a governor of the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation and on the scientific advisory boards of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, the American Asthma Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation. He is a member of the national Pfizer Therapeutic Areas Scientific Advisory Panel and the Lurie Prize jury. He served for ten years on the scientific advisory board of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and the Board of Trustees of the Hospital for Special Surgery, where he chaired the Research Committee. He has been an editor of the Journal of Experimental Medicine since 1981 and presently serves as co-chair of its editorial board as well as on the editorial boards of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Science Translational Medicine. He was awarded the Robert Koch Prize in 2009 for his work on tuberculosis, the Anthony Cerami Award in Translational Medicine in 2013 and the Milstein Award of the International Interferon and Cytokine Society in 2016.

Nathan is a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s TB Drug Accelerator and Principal Investigator of the NIH-funded Tri-Institutional TB Research Unit. His research deals with the immunological and biochemical basis of host defense. He established that lymphocyte products activate macrophages, that interferon-gamma is a major macrophage activating factor, and that mechanisms of macrophage antimicrobial activity include induction of the respiratory burst and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). He and his colleagues purified, cloned, knocked out and characterized iNOS biochemically and functionally, discovered the cofactor role of tetrahydrobiopterin in NOS’s and introduced iNOS as a therapeutic target. Although iNOS helps the host control Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the leading cause of death from bacterial infection, Mtb resists sterilization by host immunity. Nathan’s lab now focuses on the biochemical basis of this resistance. Genetic and chemical screens have identified enzymes that Mtb requires to survive during non-replicative states, including the mycobacterial proteasome. His group is identifying compounds that kill non-replicating bacteria while exploring new collaborative models between academia and industry to help invigorate antibiotic research and development.

The Medical Commencement Archive

“A Moral Compass” – Dr. Howard Bauchner, University of Texas Health Science Center McGovern School of Medicine at Houston 2018 Commencement

This week’s commencement speech is by Dr. Howard Bauchner, who spoke at the University of Texas McGovern School of Medicine in Houston, TX. Howard Bauchner, MD was appointed the 16th Editor in Chief of JAMA® and The JAMA Network® in 2011. Prior to coming to JAMA, Howard was a Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine and Editor in Chief of Archives of Disease in Childhood (2003-2011).

Dr. Bauchner focuses his speech on the morality of being a physician and ethical challenges one must face. He starts by emphasizing the trust patients will place on the graduating medical students: “What I want to focus on is the need to find a moral compass in your life as a physician. I cherish being a physician. Many patients trust us with their lives – thankfully we are no longer seen as a gods – and that is a good thing – but many many patients want us to help them with some of the most difficult and emotional decisions in their lives – how to care for a sick child, how to help a failing parent, what test or procedure should they have for themselves, and of course among the most difficult decisions – care at the end of life. This is your future as a physician, embrace it – and feel the privilege that it is to be so intimately involved in the life of another individual.”

He discusses the ongoing ethical issues facing the medical community such as high healthcare and drug costs, special interest groups that place the wellbeing of patients second, and difficulty of decision-making at the individual level vs the population level. He tells the graduates that they will have to face new ethical challenges with the advancement of technology, and must play the role of patient advocate.

To demonstrate the difficulty of managing such ethical issues, Dr. Bauchner shares a personal story of struggle: “I want to tell you a story of my own ethical failing – one that has haunted to me to this day.  I was attending on the wards at BMC – the old Boston City Hospital – and after days of caring for a child with pneumonia who was not getting better, and me resisting the idea of a repeat CxR, the child developed sepsis.  I was notified in the early morning hours at home, his temperature was 104, his WBC had increased to 35K, and a repeat chest CxR showed a large pleural effusion – likely an empyema.  He was whisked off to surgery, the effusion was drained, he was intubated, started on pressors for hypotension, and broad-spectrum antibiotics to cover the suspected bacteria.  I arrived the next morning – immediately went to the ICU – by this time his BP had stabilized, he had responded to the antibiotics, and was about to be extubated.  His parents came up to me and profusely thanked me for saving their child’s life – I stumbled – mentally and vocally – what should I say.  And to this day I feel ashamed, ashamed that I did not say what I should have, but you do not understand – it was my decisions that made your child so sick.

You will face many decisions – perhaps not quite as dramatic as this – that will affect your lives and the lives of your patients.  When do you speak up and when do you remain silent.  The colleague who does too many tests; the health care system that purchases practices so they can charge higher prices for care; the insurance company that blocks appropriate care; the pharmaceutical and device industries that charge prices in the US that are 5 and sometimes 10 times more than anywhere else in the world; and most importantly end of life decisions that you will make with patients and will be influenced by your own religious, cultural, and personal experiences.  You are likely to confront some but not all of these issue next year as a first year resident, but most will find their way into your professional life at some time.  There is no need to wrestle with all of them, since that can be overwhelming, but it is important to understand that these are ethical issues that demand and require much thought and reflection.”

Read the full speech in the Commencement Archive:

About Dr. Bauchner

Howard Bauchner, MD was appointed the 16th Editor in Chief of JAMA® and The JAMA Network® in 2011. Prior to coming to JAMA, Howard was a Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine and Editor in Chief of Archives of Disease in Childhood (2003-2011). At BUSM he was Vice-Chair of Research for the  Department of Pediatrics and Chief, Division of General Pediatrics. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, United Kingdom.

The Medical Commencement Archive

“Looking Back and Looking Forward” – Dr. Robert Witzburg, Boston University School of Medicine 2018 Commencement

As a faculty member of the Boston University School of Medicine for over 30 years and current Associate Dean and Director of Admissions, Dr. Witzburg had heard his share of commencement speeches. However, most of those speeches were less-than-memorable. Even when Senator John Kerry came to speak, Dr. Witzburg could hardly recollect the content of his address. Thus, rather than telling the graduating BA-MD class of the BUSM, Dr. Witzburg posed a riddle for them to ponder: “Why am I here today?”

He goes on to ask each new MD to seek out the answer from within – not to look for help from teachers, mentors, or classmates. “Only you can discover your own uniquely personal answer to this riddle. Only you can dig down deep inside, where you keep your most treasured dreams, where you nurture your most lofty goals, where you drop your guard, look in your internal mirror, and face unafraid who you are and who you hope to be.”

Dr. Witzburg ends his speech with what it means to be a BUSM trained physician: “we advance our science with integrity and that we care for our patients with dignity, with compassion, and with respect simply because it is the right thing to do”.

“If you carry this with you into your future as physicians I am quite certain, that you will end your careers as I end mine – believing that you have done well by doing good, taking delight in the fact that you have never had an uninteresting day, nor gone home without having learned something new, and that your work has been, not a burden, but one of the greatest gifts of your life.”

Read the full speech in the Commencement Archive:


About Dr. Robert Witzburg

Dr. Witzburg is Professor of Medicine as well as Associate Dean and Director of Admissions at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM)—a position he has held since 2002. A 1973 graduate of Tufts University, Dr Witzburg received his M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine in 1977. He completed his internship, residency and chief residency in Medicine at Boston City Hospital, and is board certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. Dr. Witzburg has served the Boston community as Training Program Director and Associate Chief of Medicine at Boston City Hospital for 12 years and then as Associate Chief Medical Officer at Boston Medical Center and as the first Medical Director of the Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan. He was the first Chief of the Section of Community Medicine at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine, serving in that capacity and as Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine from 1997-2002. Dr. Witzburg was also a founder, President, and Medical Director of the Neighborhood Health Plan, a community health center-based HMO focused on enhancing the quality and scope of health care services available to vulnerable populations.


The Medical Commencement Archive

“Dallas Needs You”: Mayor Mike Rawlings, UT Southwestern Medical School 2018 Commencement

This week’s commencement speech is by Mayor Mike Rawlings, who spoke to the UT Southwestern Medical School 2018 Commencement. Mike Rawlings is the 61st mayor of Dallas and the longest-serving mayor in more than 45 years. During his time in office, he has focused on spurring economic development in the long-overlooked southern portion of Dallas through his GrowSouth initiative, improving public education, combating poverty and domestic violence, developing parks, elevating the city’s international profile and turning Dallas into a top destination for artists, young professionals, families and corporations.

Mayor Mike Rawlings starts off his speech by talking about UT Southwestern’s importance to the city of Dallas and his personal interactions with the physician leaders of UTSW. He makes a plea to the graduates to stay in the Dallas metroplex to help the growing community continue to flourish.

Mr. Rawlings then talks about the recent events that shattered the Dallas community such as the police shootings during the Black Lives Matter protest in 2016 and the Ebola scare in 2014, and how it took the strength of heroic medical professions to get through these events. One such hero was UTSW’s very own trauma surgeon, Dr. Brain Williams: “…5 of our officers were ambushed and killed during a Black Lives Matter protest. I saw the best of medicine that night. One of the lead trauma surgeons treating our officers at Parkland was Dr. Brian Williams, a black man who lives in Dallas and in the wake of that awful day spoke powerfully about the fear that he has experienced as a black man interacting with police officers – but he added that he of course would never have allowed his personal feelings to in any way impact the way that he cared for those officers. That night he was a doctor first, an advocate second. But he used his platform as a trauma surgeon who had worked to save our officers as an opportunity to speak in a raw and honest way about social justice… and that has continued in the years since the July 7 shootings.”

Mayor Rawlings then goes into a conversation about the importance of the personal interactions the graduating students will encounter throughout their professional medical careers, and draws from the work and thoughts of Martin Buber, a Jewish Theologian. He encourages the graduates to change their personal interactions from an “I – IT relationship” to an” I – THOU relationship” to recognize the divinity within ourselves and the divinity of others so that deeper relationships can be formed.

Mike Rawlings concludes his speech with a call to action for the graduates to realize their higher calling in life: “These are all personal choices each of you will have to make. Will you fulfill your calling? If so, what will it be? And how will you interact with your patients? Can you be conveyors of science and hope at the same time? I know you will make the right decisions. You are smart enough, you’ve been taught by the best, and you are lucky. I’m betting on you. And so is our city. Thank you for allowing me to celebrate this day with you.”

Read the full speech in the Commencement Archive:

The Medical Commencement Archive

“The Social Mission of Medical Education” – Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, Yale School of Medicine 2018 Commencement

To start this year’s commencement archive, we have Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan’s 2018 commencement speech at Yale School of Medicine titled “The Social Mission of Medical Education”.

Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan is Professor of Health Policy at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington and Professor of Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine. He served 23 years in the United States Public Health Service, starting as a physician in the National Health Service Corps and later as director of the program. He subsequently, directed the Bureau of Health Professions, and attained the rank of Assistant Surgeon General. In 1996, he retired from the Public Health Service and joined the staff of the journal Health Affairs as a Contributing Editor and the Founding Editor of the Narrative Matters section. He joined the faculty at George Washington University on a part time basis in 1997 and full time in 2005. In recent years, his research and policy work have focused on US and international health workforce issues, especially equity in health professions education.

In his address to the Yale School of Medicine graduating class, Dr. Mullan tells a story about his experiences as a medical civil rights worker in the mid 1960’s right after his first year of medical school. He lived with the locals to help sort out local health problems and promote civil rights work by going door-to-door to encourage people to register to vote and sign their kids up to attend the white school that was going to be integrated for the upcoming year. His experiences along with the Civil Rights Movement sweeping the nation inspired him to become a Civil Rights doctor, a doctor for those who were underrepresented. He went back to the University of Chicago for medical school and helped organize student clubs and events focused on Civil Rights. The work of his peers and him was both on a local and national scale.

Dr. Mullan then asks the students of the graduating class to think about why they chose medicine as a career. In his works “Medicine, we know, will guarantee us a good living. But, for many of us, the selection of medicine goes way beyond that. Idealism draws many of us into medicine – the opportunity of helping others, alleviating pain, extending life, and perhaps contributing new knowledge to the healing arts. For others there is something more – a sense of what I will call social mission that is more than the desire to heal. Social mission recognizes that there are inequities in the world and, more to the point, in access to health and health care. In ways articulate and inarticulate, many young men and women entering medicine hope to help in this regard. They hope to make the world not only a better place, but also a fairer place. This is social mission.”

Dr. Mullan details the need for medical schools to have social missions in order to shape the doctors of the future. Dr. Mullan exclaims that “We need doctors who understand these problems and are committed to fixing them. The call for social mission is by no means limited to primary care or for those who see themselves as activists. We need physicians of all specialties to work in rural areas and to treat poor and low-income populations. We need physician research scientists and policy leaders equipped to tackle these equity problems”.

Dr. Mullan concludes with a statement that the whole medical system – medical schools and teaching hospitals – needs to be rebuilt to not only be better but fairer.


Read the full speech in the Commencement Archive:

Emotion General Medical Humanities Opinion Reflection


Wallflower by Janie Cao
Edited by Mary Abramczuk

Two Novembers ago, I decided to try painting again. At that point, I had been studying medicine for a little over 2 years. After browsing YouTube’s collection of painting tutorials, I found one that seemed realistic for me. It was a still life of roses.

There's a common saying--  "stop and smell the roses." Have you heard of it? It suggests a world that is riddled with roses. I wish that was the world we lived in.

In those years being surrounded by scientific medicine, I think I was learning this: sometimes by the time you arrive, the roses have all been picked. Then it's up to you to create beauty, again, from the ashes.

Wallflower by Janie Cao // 11.24.2016

PC: TonalLuminosity


Announcement: Anonymous Letters Idea?

Hello everyone!

As you have noticed, there wasn’t a blog post scheduled for today, so I wanted to take this opportunity to get your feedback on an idea 🙂

Have y’all* heard of PostSecret? I was wondering what it’d be like if we started a project where we asked people in medicine to write anonymous letters (max 250 words) to their own doctors/healthcare team?

That’s all I’ve got for now. Would love to hear your thoughts! Please comment below or send them to Janie at (would be helpful if you included “MSPress” in subject line). 

Thank you! 🙂

Usually a bit excited about something,
Janie Cao, Blog Associate Editor

P.S. If you ever have blog post submission ideas, please send them directly to me at (with “MSPress” in subject please)

P.S.S. I’m working on “Out There: Part 2”- hopefully will be ready for next Thurs!

*I live in Texas; No, I don’t ride a horse to school.

PC: Grant Hutchinson

Emotion General Global Health Healthcare Disparities Interview Narrative Reflection

Out There: Part 1 (An Interview Series)

Out There: Part 1

By Janie Cao
Edited by Mary Abramczuk

I met Thanos Rossopoulos through a community service leadership program. As with almost everyone I’ve met, I stereotyped him at first glance (subconsciously, of course). I thought that he was going to be like most other first-year medical students I’d met before—smart, hardworking, and…pretty fresh from college. And guess what? I was only mostly right.

The first time I heard him share his story, we were at a group dinner. I was sitting too far away to hear everything but at the perfect distance to want more. He said something about ‘7 gap years,’ the oil and gas industry, and living in India. That was enough to nag at my curiosity, so I unashamedly asked for an encore. He graciously obliged.

Like many people in their early twenties, Thanos wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do with his life when college graduation arrived too soon. He remembered that at the time, he’d just wanted to do something exciting, something risky, something “radical.” So when they offered him an engineering job that would put him in the oil rigs of India for one and a half years, he said yes. There, for the first time in his life, Thanos stared into the glare of deprivation. Not really what he wanted, but perhaps what he really needed.

Growing up in Orange County, California, he had been raised in a privileged “bubble,” as he called his sheltered childhood. But he didn’t know how sheltered he was until he stepped foot into India, where he saw mansions and slums coexisting side by side, all in broad daylight. “It took India to force me to face inequality,” Thanos reflected, “and it didn’t sit with me well.” What he made sound like ‘just a slightly uncomfortable feeling’ was in fact the beginning of a tenacious zeal to alleviate human suffering. He was a tad modest.

The impact of those years in India manifested powerfully after he returned home. Whereas in the past, he did not even know to look for inequality, now that was all he could see around him. So, what did Thanos do next? What would you have done?

To be continued…

Photo Caption: "...Taking a stroll in the morning before my shift on the oil rig. If you look closely out in the distance you see the top part of the oil rig I worked on behind the trees. This was from a small village called Radhapur in the state of West Bengal. Very beautiful place." -Thanos Rossopoulos

Emotion Empathy Narrative Poetry Reflection

When Love Gives Way to Lies

When Love Gives Way to Lies
By Janie Cao
Edited by Shaun Webb
One evening on my way back from a hospital shift, I saw a woman staggering along the street. Half walking… half falling… It looked like she was trying to get back home after spending some time at the nearby bar.

I didn’t know how I was supposed to respond as an almost-doctor. But it didn’t feel quite right to just leave her be, especially when she was drunk and in the dark, all alone.

By the time I drove to her, she was already in the parking lot of her apartment complex. I got out anyways, just to say “Hi.”

I remember when she turned and looked at me. She paused. And in those moments of silence, I saw heartache.  There was also sadness, anger, and a pain that would leave marks. It didn’t matter that she didn’t know me enough to trust me. There was too much hurt to hide. As I watched her eyes, I remember wanting so much to stop her from feeling that night.

Finally, she chuckled and smiled bitterly. “My husband…” she said. Then she gave me a kiss goodbye.

She never finished her sentence, but I wonder if it had something to do with this: that when a husband hurts his wife, and love gives way to lies, it can simply be called life. I went home after, and cried.

based on a true story

Photo credit: Bernard Laguerre