The Hamilton lyrics that resonate with this trauma surgeon

Like much of America, my family is obsessed with everything Hamilton. We jammed to the soundtrack all summer. The season culminated with a late August trip to the show which I described on social media as the best day of my life. Seeing the show, the actors, the set, and choreography, come to life with lyrics we had all memorized was such an amazing experience.

I cried.

Part of that was pinching myself that it was actually happening. And the other parts were one particular segment that just cut into my soul when I saw the character of Aaron Burr singing it.

I sobbed.

Let me provide you context. Burr is an orphan who is in love with a married woman. He has decided that with everything he has gone through, all of the losses he has suffered, he is willing to wait for the woman he loves.

As someone who was taught to hate Burr by her high school history teacher who was a Hamilton scholar, this humanization of Aaron Burr was a bit off-putting at first. But the reason I simply could not stop the tears while experiencing the song with all of my senses as the show was not about the forbidden love story behind it, rather is was the commentary on death.

Death doesn’t discriminate

between the sinners

and the saints,

it takes and it takes and it takes

and we keep living anyway.

We rise and we fall

and we break

and we make our mistakes.

These words resonate so strongly with my trauma surgeon’s soul. We provide care indiscriminately, irrespective of race, socio-economic status, mechanism of injury, insurance, etc. And we lose people. Sometimes they arrive lifeless; sometimes our efforts fail. When that happens we are broken. We wonder if we could have done anything differently; did we make a mistake? But we have to go on “living” because there are more patients waiting. Some of them are sinners while others are saints and it doesn’t matter we treat them all the same. Then we wait for the next patient to arrive.

The title of the song is Wait for It.

The Hamilton soundtrack is still more or less played in a continuous loop in my home, in our cars, on my runs. And every time I hear this song I cry. I can’t help it. It simultaneously breaks my heart for all my patients who have died and provides me reason to keep coming back to this very emotionally challenging and physically exhausting profession. I know it was not Lin-Manuel Miranda intent to write this segment of music (the lyrics and the accompaniment which is haunting) for the trauma surgeon in me, but that has been it’s effect, and I am so grateful.

And as for the burnout that is particularly rampant in my specialty, despite the tears from this particular song, the overall experience of seeing the show on Broadway was truly one of the happiest days of my life. I perfect way to spend a weekend off and return to work refreshed and ready to wait for it.

Heena P. Santry is a surgeon who blogs at Hot Heels, Cool Kicks, & a Scalpel.  She can be reached on Twitter @SurgeoninHeels.

Image credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

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