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Graduation weekend began on Friday, May 14 with an awards ceremony. I received the Humanism In Medicine award in recognition of exemplary compassion, competence, and respect in the delivery of care. I received a standing ovation, which embarrassed me a little bit, but I was very pleased because my classmates nominated me for it.

On Sunday, May 16 we had our hooding ceremony. During this ceremony, I received my doctoral hood and I took my Hippocratic Oath. Before the dean began to call each of our names, he asked everyone to refrain from clapping until everyone had been hooded. As each of my classmates name was called, I became more and more excited. My lifelong dream was becoming a reality. Thoughts of the past year and everything that I had been through, raced through my head. Finally, it was time for my row to go up to the front. As my name was called, the crowd erupted with applause. I was very caught off guard and overwhelmed with emotion. I was trying to find Michelle, but with everyone on their feet, I was unable to. I wanted to make eye contact with her and share the moment because she deserved that standing ovation just as much as I did.

The next morning was my official graduation. We were in the quad at the undergraduate campus for the first part. Colin Powell was the speaker, and he was quite good. After the long drawn-out commencement ceremony, the school of medicine broke off so we could receive our diplomas.

I led my class on to the stage with all of our families and friends in the audience. It was an incredible feeling! Once again, the dean asked everyone to refrain from applause until all of our names were called, and once again, I received a standing ovation. This time, Michelle was in the second row, so we were able to share the moment together.

The five days between graduation and the wedding were extremely busy. Friday was upon us before we knew it. As we were going through our rehearsal, my excitement began to build. After our rehearsal dinner, we all went into the sanctuary at my temple for Friday night services. In the beginning of the service, Michelle and I were brought on to the altar and blessed before the congregation. After we returned to our seats, I was even more excited. In 22 hours, Michelle and I would be married in that sanctuary.

Michelle and I decided to stay in separate rooms on Friday night and not see each other on Saturday. I spent the day hanging out with friends and trying to keep my mind occupied. Michelle went to the gym in the morning and hung out with her bridesmaids while they got their hair done. Around three o’clock it was time for me to start getting ready. I tried to eat some food, but I had a difficult time because I was so excited. At four o’clock, it was time to go to the temple.

I enjoyed taking pictures with my groomsmen and ushers. While we were doing this, I tried unsuccessfully not to look at the clock. The minutes seemed like hours. Around 5:45, we were told to get ready to go into the sanctuary. I was so excited and anxious, that I was almost sick to my stomach. I took a deep breath and small talked with my groomsmen. This made the next 10 minutes go buy much easier. Before I knew it, I was going down the aisle with my parents.

I waited anxiously at the steps of the altar. It seemed like it took the seven bridesmaids an hour to finish their procession. Then finally, the doors were shut. When they opened, there was Michelle in between her parents. She was far away for me, but I could still tell that she was crying. She cried all the way until she got to me. It was then that I could see how beautiful she was. She said goodbye to her parents and then began to circle me. In a Jewish wedding, the bride and groom circle each other three times each and then complete one circle together.

We then both went onto the altar together. Once we were up there, we were both totally at peace. The ceremony was absolutely beautiful. When we read the reasons why we love each other, there were not too many dry eyes in the sanctuary. The same would be true during our first dance.

Michelle and I were introduced with the Chicago Bulls introduction music. This really set the tone for a great reception. Fortunately, the food was good and the DJ was great. Michelle and I, along with everyone else, had a blast. While saying goodbye, many people told us it was the best wedding that they had ever been too.