She wore Snow Angel the first time she held a scalpel in her hand, the gift of a kind woman who sent her a tiny vial of the desperately sought-after oil even though she had little to offer her in return. It made her smile. Light and bubbly, sweet and playful, exuberant, a girlish smile -- just like her.
She wore Snow Angel on her twenty-first birthday, the gift of beloved friends who had decided that the scent had been created by distilling the essence of her soul and so gathered up enough money between themselves to buy her a bottle, tracking down a person willing to give up theirs in the process. She smiled so hard she cried.
She wore Snow Angel to the most important interview of her life. She walked through the hospital and into the pavillion housing the school of medicine, head held high, reminded of the unconditional love and support of her family and friends with every sniff of her wrist. Her interviewers asked her about her vulnerability. Her interviewers questioned her on how she would handle death. Her interviewers backed her into the wall and asked her about ethics and how she'd handle insurance companies and decisions and lying. But at the end of it all, her interviewers smiled.
She smiled, too.
She was wearing Snow Angel when the phone rang a few days before Christmas. "The Admissions committee met recently," said the dean of admissions, "and we have decided to extend an offer of admission for you to join our freshman class next year. Merry Christmas." It wasn't a white Christmas, but it was the most beautiful Christmas she had ever known. She smiled so big, she thought her heart was going to burst.
She wore Snow Angel to her white coat ceremony the next year. She stood there among her fellow student physicians, clad in perfectly starched white coat and stethoscope, smiling so big that her cheeks hurt as she took the Physician's Oath. Twenty one years and a childhood dream, years of hard work and tears, and she had finally arrived.
She wore Snow Angel to her dedication ceremony later that winter, standing as one with her classmates and professors, fellow physicians all -- student and teacher, mentor and mentored. Dedicated with a prayer; dedicated for service and love and learning and wholeness.
She smiled. For she knew what it meant. Love and caring and pain and tears and stress and late nights of cramming. But she knew the story was so much bigger than her. It was the miracle of life and birth on OB-GYN; how things went right so many times, more often than thing went wrong. It was death and the frailty of the human race staring her straight in the face on PICU. It was the righteous anger that crept into her heart when she heard them say "possible NAT" as she stared at the impossibly colored bruises. But she was there. She would be there. She would love. She would fight even when the odds seemed impossible. She would go on even when she thought that she couldn't give any more.
But most importantly of all, she would always smile.