Growing up, all I remembered and knew about was going to doctor appointments AND the one person who was ALWAYS there was my Dad. Naturally, I always listed my father as an emergency contact. At every blood draw, at every hospitalization, at every emergency room visit, at ever tear drop that fell down my face, at every time I just needed a someone to hold on to, at every time I puked from the anesthesia that was too strong for me to withstand, and at every single breathing doctor’s appointment that required waiting, patience, and a bit of sanity left was Papa Wu with his big jovial smile and warmth and wisdom that he radiated. One of the greatest lessons that my Papa Wu has taught me and that I try to live by through his example is to stay and be strong and be there during the toughest times and the worst times in people’ lives, because being there for each other in the worst brings out the best in us and in others and builds for the strongest of people and relationships. Most people will leave when it is hard. Most people cannot handle or withstand. I refuse to be like most people.
I do not remember when my Dad stopped going to doctor appointments with me. I think it was when I was in college that I started going to anything health-related all alone. There also reached a point that I did not want anyone with me at my doctor appointments. I wanted to go alone. I did not want to worry the people I loved anymore when they had spent too many years worrying about me. I did not want them to know. I did not want to be a burden, and so I became fiercely protective and private of my health so that I went all alone to doctor appointments and I even had admitted myself to emergency room visits alone and did not tell anyone I loved until I was discharged with a solution to my problems. And it hits me—my Dad stopped going to my doctor appointments when he started to have to go to his own doctor appointments and when I started accompanying him to his doctor appointments. Time flies and goes to fast that in a blink of an eye, we grow up and we grow old. And, the roles reverse.
For the first time, sitting in that waiting room as a supposed adult at 36-years-old and 24 years out with my second kidney, a simple question of “in the case of an emergency” had suddenly slammed me upside the head with reality. My Dad was not going to be around forever. He supposedly has less years ahead of himself than I do. Who would I go to in the case of an emergency if/when my father was no longer around? Who did I or could I put my faith and trust in when it came to my life that I saw as my greatest gift? Who was going to be there in the case of an emergency?
Most people I know
list their spouse and significant other as an emergency contact. Then, there are children, siblings, and, the
rare occasion, a relative or very good friend who is deemed as family in the
eyes of the beholder and lister. But, what
do you do when you are single and all alone?
Or when you may not have any family or friends you can really trust
close by? More than a couple times, I
had an emergency living all alone and I called my neighbors and even called 911
when the ambulance actually had to come rushing to my aid. I used to have a very good friend who was
single and who listed me as an emergency contact and vice versa, but this
friend is no longer around. One of my
very good friends had once said to me that you know that you are a grown adult
and your parents are growing old when you no longer turn to your parents first for
an emergency, when you no longer list your parents as an emergency contact, and
when your parents list you as an emergency contact. Suddenly, I really felt like an adult. Suddenly, I realized that I was a grown
up. Wow, this was scary. Yet, in spite of the fear, there is a great sense
of honor and strength in the responsibility of caring for and being there for
others. It is indeed a privilege when people put their
faith and trust in you and you are in a place and position to help, do good,
take responsibility, and be there for others in their time of need. So, I take
it. And, I take it with honor to be there for
others in the case of an emergency with the hope that I can figure out who I
can list in the coming years in a case of an emergency for me. Suffice to say, I ended up leaving this box
Emergencies put us in
a delicate and realistic place of growing up and growing old. Who is listed as your emergency
contact? Do you have more than one? Or do you have none? Who do you put your faith and trust in when
it comes to something as precious as your life?
Who would you really go to in the case of an emergency?
Keep smilin’ until we
When I was a little
girl, I had a love for index cards.
Questions on one blank side.
Answers on the other lined side. Forget
about side-swiping, finger-punching, and button-pushing technological gadgets.
No. Nothing beat index cards. Hand held.
Easy to carry. Totally
user-friendly. Made me completely happy
These index cards
became my best friends when my first kidney transplant began to fail by
11-years-old. Almost all the adults
spoke around me or behind me as though I was not in the room. I, in turn, got loud and obnoxious by
whipping out my index cards to fire out all my questions and with a know-it-all
attitude to give me the answers and tell me the truth. Even now, I will go into a doctor’s
appointment with a list of questions expecting answers. However, I learned at a young age that there
many in ‘authority’ who see ‘questions’ as non-compliance or
troublemaking. Good thing I like to make
trouble. ;-) And, just so you know now,
one of my major intolerable pet peeves is when people are talking about me in
the third person when I am right in the room.
Have you experienced that? The
truth never really hurt me. Reality did
not hurt. It was people and lies and
bubble wrapping me that was the ultimate hurt and betrayal to me.
I still remember when
my dad was on the phone with my sister and said, “Well, she needs a second
kidney transplant. If she does not get
My mind tuned out my
dad by then, because I had known the truth even before my Dad knew when my
first kidney transplant was failing. I
was the one in my body. I surely knew my
body was failing and betraying me. I
just did not know what was to come. Do
any of us ever really know what is to come when our lives are turned upside
down, though? It was just a matter of
time until I had to be truthful and honest with myself. That is the hardest part: Being honest with
yourself—about your limitations, about what you are about to face and fight, about
trying to trust the process, and about your vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Oh, and trust me, life will rear its ugly
head and force you to face the truth no matter how much you do not want to face
it. Suffice to say, my life and I have never been
bubble wrapped. The intent of bubble
wrap is protection from breaking, but perhaps we are all meant to crack and
break at some point to put our pieces together again and better than ever. Shelter and protection from the truth can
only last for so long. The truth always
has a way of coming out. Being as un-bubbled as ever builds for strong
character and strength that is immeasurable.
So, let’s be truthful
here. There are moments in your life
that you remember as clear as day and like it was yesterday. These moments will replay over and over in
your mind like a movie that you are watching on the outside looking
inside. And when you watch the movie,
you may wish there was something or anything that you could change, but you can’t. It is like an outer body experience. These moments are filled with truths that are
biting and frightening, testing and challenging us if we can fall to get back
up again or just stay fallen. When I
think about it, no one had ever really blatantly and bluntly told me the truth
about anything in my life that was about to change my life. I somehow always knew. I knew when my life was about to
significantly change. I knew when there
was an ending on the near horizon to make room for a new, scary, and
frightening beginning. Call it a gut
feeling. Call it intuition and
instinct. I somehow always knew truths
before it was even told me. And, when I
knew, I could only lie for so long until I stepped up up to dig deeper and find
out more about the truth to face and endure what was to come.
ourselves or being ‘bubble wrapped’ by others comes with consequences that can
hurt us in the long run. Would you
rather know the truth no matter how much it may hurt? Is honesty really the best policy? Is it harder to be honest with ourselves than
with others? Is it sometimes better NOT
to know for the sake of kindness and gentleness? Would you tell the truth knowing it would
hurt someone? Have you ever been bubble wrapped or bubble
Keep smilin’ until we
Before the age of 10-years-old, I ran away from home twice. When I did not get my way as a child or when I got into fights and arguments, I ran away from home and escaped only feeling miniscule guilt when I peeked out from my hiding places at my parents worrying and searching for me. I chose to run away and hide rather than stay and fight and face off with problems and people who rubbed me the wrong way, but problems always have a way of finding you when they are not resolved. I was a trickster and mischievous child with throwing water in my uncle’s face when he played dead. I picked the lock of my sister’s bedroom door to read her diary. I was a badass brat when I was a little girl.
By the time I was in my pre-teens and faced with my first kidney transplant failing and my mother leaving, I was a bitter and angry prepubescent constantly questioning “Why Me?” or “What did I ever do to deserve this?” I played and was the angry victim. I was NOT happy. It was when I faced losing life and dealing with suffering and death that I understood how life is this precious gift wrapped up with this shiny bow called ‘gratitude’ AND that laughter is the best and free medicine in the world—especially belly laughs that make you laugh so hard that you start crying. It is always the case in life that you never know what you have until you are about to lose it or it is completely gone.
People do not believe me when I tell them how bitter, angry, and dark I was. People still do not believe me when I step up to share about my fears, stresses, anxieties, and vulnerabilities with select few people. People know me for who I am now with the biggest smile on my face and loudest laugh. And, do not get me wrong—there is so much larger than life joy that wraps me up and lights me up and I am so immensely grateful, but there are days and times when it is REALLY hard and tough that you are forced to step back, put the pause button, and literally stop to start up again. I think we all have this void that begs and beckons to be filled and we are all trying our very best day in and day out. It is hard to be human.
I am not proud of who I was, but I am intrigued and fascinated with how and who I have become and am becoming. I often think I would not have even been friends with my ‘then’ selves. People never really know who we were and our histories. People never really know who we are. Heck, I do not think we even really know who we are. People’s only reference point is from the moment they meet us and going forward from there—never knowing our histories, but make history happen with memories and moments. I was once and am still guilty at times of being very judgmental and critical of people, but then I get a pinched reminder as to how I have never been perfect and am filled with imperfections. We know logically and people cannot and should not be judged on who they were and on the mistakes they made, but we tend to hone in on flaws and mistakes of others AND of ourselves because we are our own worst critic with hearing and saying: “If I knew then what I know now then I would not have done ((FILL IN THE BLANK)).” Well, thank goodness we make mistakes and we have “tomorrows” and “future” to have the gift of chances to try to redeem and better ourselves and not make the same mistakes.