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The "Wu Word" Blog

August 2015

Sins

Dear God,
 
Stained glass shattered tears melt in her skin
From the weight of the guilt of all of her sins
 
Yet she says to me:
Pray on your knees
So you can be free
From all that you sinned
Flames of hell, she warns, will be your end
Because you do not go to the house of God
Because you do not have any church friends
 
The white lab coat wrapped tightly around his body is so very papery thin
Ever so slightly, he mildly grins about the logic behind sins
 
And he says to me:
There is a higher power, known as God, up above
Full of so much unconditional love
He put his hand gently on my chest
Told me many facts and to do good acts
Not because of anyone’s instruction
But because of the combination of me and divine intervention
 
So, I ask and say:
One God or more? 
Heaven or Hell?
Do I pray every day or rationalize my sins away? 
I am sure there is more
My own voice, choices, and free will
My slow journey with the means to heal
 
Strong scents of burnt incense float from the Buddhist temple she sits cross-legged in
Ever so zen, she calmly and quietly shares about the concept of sins
 
Here she says to me:
Nothing and no one lasts forever
There will come a time that everything and everyone is over
No attachment, nothing permanent, only detachment, all is just for rent
Sweet chants of penetrating reflection
So many surreal sensations
In the serene silence of meditation
 
Despair lies in his eyes and the sadness sharply stings
He rubs his chin and coldly claims that he does not believe in anything with sins
 
There he says to me:
No God exists
Do not be transfixed
By these false tales that we were spoon fed
Clouding your head
Faith is a thief, intending to deceive
Ceases any and all you can independently conceive
 
I find my own Faith:
We all have crosses to bear
Fragmented fears when the end is near
Temptations, Redemptions, and Salvations
Omens, Psalms, and Sermons
I will work to be the better person then
I will awaken and can heal from my sins to always begin again 
 
And so I say to you, God,
 

Amen.

Reveal My Soul

On a summery Friday night, heavy, and perhaps even torrential, rain storms were in the forecast.  However, Mother Nature had rebelled and created a milky and misty night sky without a moon, stars, or any raindrops to be seen.
 
Underneath the skies above stood a small little house that overlooked the seemingly serene Hudson River waters.  In the small house were at least thirty faded-faced strangers clustered tightly in upright cushioned armchairs.  Only slants of shadowy lights cast over each person, creating outlines of the eager eyes and perked ears to hear what needed to be heard. 
 
In this house was me standing behind a podium with a single spotlight that bathed and illuminated my face and the contours of my body dressed in a lacy black dress.  This “Open Mic Night” to complete my “Live List” item task to read my writings to complete strangers was about to commence.  It was time. It was now.  I was ready to reveal my soul. 
 
I had only one thing in common with these strangers that sat in a semi-circle before me on this incandescent night: the love affair with words that were to be shared with others.  I may never see these people again.  I may see them again.  But, no matter what, just for tonight, we were not strangers.  We were friends bound and bonded by words. 
 
Before I opened my mouth to speak, I blinked through the blinding spotlight to gratefully glimpse the front row where my two friends had shown up as staunch supporters.  One who gave and still gives me the gift of knowing her just about forever.  Another who gave and is giving me the gift of getting to know him.    With last looks at them just before I was about to read, the nausea I had since morning and the need to vomit from nerves were slowly dissolving.  The rapid flutters were slowing their speed and now only humming rather calmly in my tummy.  All my fears and inhibitions were dissipating. 
 
The last thing I heard in my head was my friend who had asked me earlier that day: “You’ve done plenty of public speaking engagements before, so why are you so afraid of reading your writing, Mary?  What are you scared of?”
 
In that moment, the answer to her question was as clear as day to me with a reasonable thought also swimming alongside it, “Nothing.  I cannot be scared of anything when there is nothing to be scared of and nothing to regret.” 
 
With hands clasped behind my back, my mouth opened to speak the writings that I had chosen to reveal my soul—to reveal me. My voice that I was certain would vibrate with trepidation seemed steady, strong, and slow in my ears.  In the darkness where I could barely see anyone, I tried to fulfill eye contact that had always been the first point of connection with another human being.  In every word I spoke, I could feel the revelation of my soul slowly blossoming and blooming to every single person in the room.  But, more than that, I could feel my soul being revealed to me. 
 
In these 5 minutes, time stood still for me.  All the anticipation accompanied with physical, mental, and emotional troubles washed away.  All the aftermath that would follow was a distant reality in my mind.  In a room full of people, I had never felt so full and at home with the words that I had written from all that were felt in the depths of me.

I do not recall when I had written boldly on my “Live List”: Read my writings to complete strangers.  Nor can I recall why it was on my “Live List.”  My friend questioning me: ‘What are you so scared of?’ shed light to the real answer.  In fact, I had known the answer all along as to why I had been so scared (petrified even) to read and share my writings to others. 

In short terms, I was scared to show the very in-depth part of me to the public that only my writing revealed.  In very short terms, I was afraid to reveal my soul. 

All these years behind my smile and perky high-pitched voice laid the expressive and emotional angst that flooded out in my writing.  For as long as I could remember, writing had been my constant and loyal friend for me, myself, and I.  Writing is a very solitary journey and experience and had always provided me with the therapy and outlet for me to just be me.

I had rather recently openly shared my writing to the world to read, but had hid all this time from the world to hear.  If I was really honest with myself, I did wonder and even care how people received my writing that revealed the angsty part of me that not many could handle and were even surprised about.   Now, this big part of me (the core of me) was now clawing at me to be shown and shared.  It was time for me to listen and fulfill.

All the anticipation and the aftermath of the “Open Mic Night” has really solidified for me that it takes courage to really and truly show the depths and the intricacies of real feelings, emotions, opinions that lie in the soul.  What started out as a mere “Live List” item to complete has now made me feel an even stronger force to fear and regret nothing and to openly receive the gift and badge of honor and strength that derives from revealing the real and all of you—especially the parts that most cannot accept and handle, or, if you are lucky enough in this life, the select few who can. Words are meant to be spoken, shared, and said and not merely just written and, most especially, felt.  I have received the great gift of people reading my writing.  Now, I wished for the world to hear my writing that can only happen from me speaking and sharing.  Now, I wish the world to feel my writing. 

On a milky and misty moonless night under the glow of a spotlight and at a podium in front of writer strangers, I had fulfilled yet another “Live List” item only to take away with me more living than ever before and questions to present and make you ponder just a bit:
 
Do you have the courage and strength to “reveal your soul,” especially the parts that most cannot accept and handle?   When have you really been YOU to others?
 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary ;-)

 

Lullaby

Lullaby
 
Daylight is now dying
The swirls of colors fainting
The moon is illuminating
The stars are sparkling
The fireflies are dancing
The crickets are crooning
 
Now that night is falling
The elderly are remembering 
The adults are wishing
The teenagers are wanting
The children are dreaming
The babies are cooing
 
While the world is sleeping
I am awaking and awaiting
I am watching and wondering
I am feeling and finding
I am contemplating and comprehending
I am giving and sharing
 
This lullaby to all of you
Sleep deeply
Dream sweetly
Immerse completely
 
For this lullaby is playing
Softly stirring
Words whispering
Sounds echoing
Silence deafening
Lingered listening
 
The lullaby begins fading
When dawn is breaking
In this lullaby, I am only quietly saying
Anything and anyone who was agonizing
Everything and everyone who has an ending

Are rising yet again, like the blinding sun, to their beginning 

One Hit Wonders

Not a long train ride at all.  Only 45 minutes.  It was certainly enough time for me to catch a good old-fashioned and much-needed nap.  The lull of the rhythmic train movements relaxed my age-old body, but my eyes were wide open and mind highly wired.  Rather than snooze, I was destined to dreamily stare out at the Hudson River with sunshine streaming through the dusty windows.
 
I could feel my body becoming at one with the train in a totally on my own and zen relaxed zone when I heard the distinct sound of squeaky sneakers approaching me.  

Gripping tightly and protectively to a huge and heavy black case in the curved shape of what I could only guess was the body of a beautiful guitar or some sort of stringed instrument that beckoned to be strummed, he leaned in close to me until his hazel-eyed gaze met mine and he asked, “Is anyone sitting here?”
 
His scraggly blonde hair and bangs were longer than mine.  Lips thin and eyes with specks of indecipherable hues intrigued me.   I smiled brightly, shook my head, and scooted in to make room for him as he carefully and gently placed the black case down.  Being that he was right in front of me and he was better looking than the hospital advertisement poster that was hanging up on the wall of the older version of the train into New York City, I could not help but look at him.

I reasoned rather judgmentally that he was a quiet and somber college student from the death metal black shirt he was sporting, ripped and holed jeans, and silver studs that were poking out sharply from his ear lobes.  Imagine my surprise when his thin lips curved into a smile and his eyes crinkled with curiosity when he opened his mouth to speak and ask, “Are we almost at Grand Central Station?” 
 
“About 30 minutes away,” I said.
 
Our conversation would end here.  I knew it would.  I was wrong.
 
He must have mistaken me as maybe a couple years older than him because he asked what school I went to.   My eyebrows raised in surprised when he inquired this and I hedged in trying to explain my job.  He filled in my awkwardness with soliloquies about his hometown in Arizona to musical instruments and music genres to his long fingernails that made his music come alive when he played the guitar. 
 
45 minutes later when the train came to a halt, he finally told me his name and scribbled on a scrap of paper to research the “viola da gamba” after I boldly gave him my contact information. 
 
I have not heard from him since. 

I won’t lie that a part of me (a big part of me, that is) hoped he would.  

In my over analytical and imaginative mind, I could see his blonde locks hanging down, touching the keyboard as he searched for my name on Facebook or was struggling to compose an email to me as he was struggling in his Junior year of college to learn to compose music.  

It was not that I had a romantic interest in him.  I was just curious about him.  He reminded me of yet another musician   (specifically a guitarist) that I met about three months ago at an organ donation/transplant registry event who seemed keen and eager to have further contact and friendship with me after his fascination with me having 4 ½ kidneys.
 
Just as quick as these two musicians (as examples, of course) have appeared in my life, their disappearances were even quicker leading to no reappearances.   
 
I have always been the big believer that there was a reason behind everything that happened and everyone that we encountered in our lives.  Nothing was an accident.  Coincidences did not exist.  There had to be reasons and answers.  Therefore, it was no surprise that the wheels in my mind are turning as to there must be some concrete conclusion as to why I am continuing to have run-ins with musicians.  Why?  Why were these people who happened to be musicians (again, no coincidences says the logical side to me) appearing in my life only to disappear and never reappear again?  I have not been able to conjure up any solid finding.
 
So, I asked the one person who I ensued in relationship ramblings with.  My sister.
 
When I told her about these run-ins with two musicians that have happened in less than five months, she said without skipping a beat, 

“You will never see these guys again.  If you really want to try to find a reason as to why they have come and gone then the only reason I can think of is randomness in life.  Random does not have a reason behind it.  Random is just random.” 
 
My sister’s words reminded me of the great gift of randomness playing its hand in life.  Maybe there was no reason to these encounters. It is the random, unforeseen, illogical, unanswerable, unexplained, unpredictable, unplanned, and unreasonable that are what I am considering as one hit wonders that bring the wonderful and wondrous in our lives.  These one hit wonders remind us that it is truly unnecessary to try to find answers, make sense out of nonsense, focus on facts over fiction, and waste any precious time searching for what cannot and will not be found.  These one hit wonders remind us life does not have to be perfect (nor is it perfect by any means) just to be wonderful. 
 
Believe it or not, I am not a completely logical, factual, reasonable, and concrete answer kind of girl.  In me, there has always been a big dreamer that has tried to live in peace and harmony with the overabundant over analyzer in me.  I was often enraptured in my emotions that often got the best of me.  I was always enamored and intrigued with fate, destiny, and kismet.  As I have aged and particularly hit my 30’s, I am finding more and more that I am unable to find specific reasons and answers and, consequently and not purposefully, have become more contemplative, reflective, and philosophical.  I am slowing down searching and slowly starting the living and being in the moments that are just are meaningful without always needing to find the exact meaning.   
 
Yes, these one hit wonders are making me wonder how much of our lives are made up of the unforeseen and unplanned without any reasoning as opposed to the foreseen and planned with reasoning?  Question left unanswered.  What or who have been your one hit wonders?  Question with too many answers.
 
In homage to this encounter that has left its mark in me, I googled “viola da gamba” from this scrap of paper that the blonde-haired and hazel-eyes guy with his beautiful curved guitar from Phoenix, Arizona gave to me.  This scrap of paper is my only concrete proof I have that our random paths crossed.
 
While I can almost hear the soulful sounds in my mind from the imaginary viola da gamba to open up my ears, mind, soul, and spirit to an orchestra of emotions, I’m not trying to dig any deeper or analyze anymore or any longer beyond and beneath than this concrete proof.  For I am just enjoying this one hit wonder out of the many other one hit wonders that make life so wonderful.
 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary   ;-)

 

Turn It Up

Another “Death Notice” alert.  I cringe and wince.  My stomach muscles cramp up in knots. 
 
I hate these emails. 
 
You would think by now after nearly 10 years of working at a cancer hospital (about 5 years of those in a chemotherapy department where death notices are received nearly daily and even more than once a day) that I would be accustomed to yet another death announcement.  That maybe I would be desensitized or immune to yet another death that comes with the territory of people fighting for their lives and to live every single day once given world-stopping diagnose of the “C-Word” (cancer) or “T-Word” (tumor). 
 
But, alas, no immune system has built up, desentization has not transpired, and indifference has been felt just yet within me.   And, I’m thankful for this.  I always want to feel when I receive a declaration of death.  Just as I feel with life, I want to feel with death.  Behind every death notice is a name, person, face, and physical shell body of a human being with a precious and unique life, journey, stories, thoughts, and experiences that are only conveyed as best as can be to the outside from the very depths and cores of the insides. 
 
I see the name.  The knots twist even tighter until I feel physically ill.  
 
 My favorite patient had passed away. 
 
I could feel the lump forming and enlarging in my throat.  I close my eyes to try to diminish the stings that are pricking and pinching right in the crevices of my eyes, but that is when she appears and the memories revolved around her spill over like silken pure white milk in my mind. 
 
There she is with her wide grin showcasing her pearly white teeth.  Enlarged plastic square-framed glasses and her blinking, big eyes full of child-like curiosity and age-old serenity.  The lilt of her sappy, Southern drawl that greeted me when I was glued to the computer screen, “Well, hello, Miss Mary.  You are looking lovely today.  New skirt, right?  You are beautiful, Miss Mary.  Are you turning it up, Miss Mary?”
 
Her hands raised up into the air and twirled around—artfully, masterfully, and, oh, so, gracefully…like she was a dancer to the rhythms, rhymes, beats, and bangs of life.  I could not help but laugh and exclaim with my hands up in the air mimicking her: “You know it!  I am turning it up!”
 
In a harmonic unified melody, we chimed together, “Turn it up!  Turn up this life!”
 
A woman who is (not just was) a mother, grandmother, wife, aunt, friend, and who had a whole crew of loved ones to accompany her in laughter, smiles, and peaceful presence when she had yet another chemotherapy treatment appointment.  When I remember her, I do not remember the hours she spent hooked up to IV bags containing multiple high-dose and high-dollar chemotherapy drugs that coursed through her body, how she shuffled to the bathroom in a dancing tango with her IV pole, or the pre-medications and appointments that were prepared for her.  

I remember her for who I remember her to be and not what her illness made her out to be.   She was not and never some disease, diagnosis, patient, or a body laid in a reclined chair for countless hours as the chemotherapy treatments ran their course.  She was a dignified human being and person with a life lived, loved ones, and, now, a legacy of how I and others will remember her.  Remembering her makes me stop and wonder if I am really remembering her for how she really was?  Do people ever really comprehend who we are?  Do we ever really understand who we are?  How do you wish to be remembered?
 
I wish I could freeze frame people’s facial expressions and the awkward pause that follows for just a millisecond when I tell them that I work at a cancer hospital.  Many cannot even say the C-word without fear flickering in their eyes.  People immediately recoil as though I or cancer are contagious and say, “Wow.  That must be sad.  I could never do your job.  It takes a certain personality.  You must see a lot of death.” 
 
I blink, confused and bewildered.  After that initial reaction, I respond with a slow smile upturned on my face and say, “Well, yes, we do get these death notices, but I honestly see more life and living because it takes death and dying for people to really live and begin again.” 
 
Working at a cancer hospital or any kind of hospital, for that matter, I’ve seen and felt the depths of death, dying, darkness, despair, but, contrary and perhaps even shockingly to what people perceive when they hear the frightful “C-word” or “T-word,"  I have seen all the more life, living, peace, playfulness, humor, laughter, hope, and happiness.  I would never trade in the days of darkness, because the shining glimpses of light outweigh and outlive in ways that cannot be measured or expressed.  

It seems to me that life moves in motions of growing up and then growing old and then older where we are closer to death.  At a certain point, “Turn it Up” becomes all the more vital—turn up the smiles, the love, the laughter, the little moments that mean that most, the joy, the happiness, the memories, and, especially, life and how you wanted to live it and want to be remembered for it.
 
One notice declared her death. 
 
One death notice will provide immediate and instant factual knowledge. 
 
One death notice will not and never do justice and capture the countless medical documents that had recorded her fight and plight to live in the face and shadows of death.  One death notice will not remember her or tell you about all her glittering glory of how she “turned up life” with her smile, her arms high in the air in a ballerina pose, and just her for her soulful spirit.  I close my eyes and I can see and feel the beats of her life rather than the last breath of her death, and I open my eyes wide to a strong pull in me to continue to “Turn it Up” and to live my life so people will remember me for all my turned up moments rather than one notice that declares a death.
 
To one of my many favorite patients who has left imprints in me, I can see you in my mind and I can see you in your new heavenly home as you show to all of your angel friends your graceful, artful, and masterful “Turn it Up” dance.  Raise your arms high, close your eyes to feel and flow to the rhythms and rhymes of life, and twirl and whirl in your brand new world that is not an ending but a new beginning for you.

Please know that while I am here on earth and you are in heaven  that as I turn up my life, I will ask and remind so many more of your legacy: of your legacy: How will you turn up your life?  How do you want to be remembered?    How will you be remembered?      
 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary :-) 
 

 
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