It’s been a rough couple of weeks at UTMB. It’s painful, hard to talk about, hard to write about. I haven’t been looking forward to blog posts the way I once did, finding myself needing to dig ever deeper to find those silver linings that I know always exist.
I know that talking about co-workers as “family” is corny and trite. I know there’s no blood bond shared between us, that I can’t begin to understand what this looks and feels like from the shoes of the many we lost, the heavy sense of uncertainty that hung over their Thanksgiving “celebrations.” We’ve got time in the trenches together, have been there for each other, have shared news about our kids, shared condolences over losses, joy over success, talked and laughed and endured, been brightened and enriched by each other. These people are my friends, were my colleagues, felt like family. Losing any of them under these circumstances would have been tough; losing so many good people is numbing.
So what now? There are a lot of moving pieces to this puzzle. I recognize some are mine to address; the second guessing and ”survivor’s guilt” (compounded for me by my back-to-normal life in League City, when my former neighbors and so many friends are still living in a war zone). And I recognize that a lot of things are out of my control. I won’t be asked to make decisions in Austin this next legislative session, or map out our institution’s future. But it is up to me to believe that our institution has a future, and when I take that first important step, to ask myself “How do I contribute in a meaningful a way to making it happen?” What’s my role, what can I do to make things better, to do more with less, to help those around me, to accept that things will never be perfect, that there are no guarantees in life or in this job? It’s not an easy path before us. There will be thorns, long and tough days, missteps and setbacks. There will be anger, frustration, doubt. But it’s a personal decision, my personal choice, to believe we can rise above it, meet the challenges and succeed. I believe that not because it will be easy, but because I’ve seen us do it before, and because what we do is needed and important.
“UTMB” means different things to different people. To me it’s first and foremost the place that brought my kids, the source of my ultimate joy, into the world. It’s a place that has afforded our family a good life, enriched me with friends, brought me many of my highest moments of professional achievement, challenged and stretched me in ways I couldn’t have imagined, both bad and good. I’ve met people here that have inspired me to do more, be better, share freely. I’ve learned and grown, been part of something I’ve always felt was special and meaningful. Maybe that silver lining is a little hard to see right now, but I still believe in it, and I still believe in UTMB.