The "Wu Word" Blog
unfortunate results this week from a routine radiology scan this week. So, the shoe has dropped yet again for more
tests and doctor appointments.
This is like a repeat
of two years ago when I returned from the 2014 Transplant Games of
America. It is as though I entered a
time machine and went back to 2014, but this is happening here and now in
2016. I brace myself that surgery
number (fill in blank because I lost track) will happen again. The surgeons love me, and particularly my
abdominal area that has been cut into countless times to rewire the ‘plumbing’ for
kidney beans, transplant kidneys, and remove or question masses. I never want to hear the word “mass” again in
my life, and the only acceptable and embraceable ‘mass’ to me now is “Catholic
Mass.” I am the surgeons’ human carving
The first person I
told was my friend for over 20 years.
One of the first
questions she asked me was, “How do you feel about all of this?”
“I don’t know,” I
I expected to be more upset, but, on the day I received
this news, I did the unexpected—I drove to an area I was completely unfamiliar
with to meet with friends to eat soft serve swirled ice cream encrusted in
hardened chocolate that melted into my mouth in a pool of delicious heaven,
played on a hybrid piano, and smiled and laughed so hard that my face hurt and
could not make any possible room for wet tears.
And, the ONLY image that
first formed in my head and filled and flowed throughout the day of this news
as all my thoughts and worries swam in there was this: Water.
16 feet of water—just
to be exact.
Water so incredibly
blue, shimmering, glittering, crisp, clean, delicious, pure, and welcoming for
me to jump in. Eyes wide open. Breath held.
Free fall. Jumped straight
in. An world of crystal clear and clean
and frigid and freezing water enveloped and embraced me. Only me.
No one else. It felt magical. It was my magic to jump into that 16 feet of
water and to feel nothing and everything at the same time. It is magic.
For the first time in
my life in over 30 years of receiving bad and unfortunate news about my health,
there were no tears, bitterness, anger, or panic. I strangely and welcomingly felt peaceful and
unafraid of the unknown. If anything, this latest health hiccup has
made me want to live, party, enjoy, and make and find magic more than ever
before. Time and time again, everything
that had went wrong, everything that had crashed and crumbled around me,
everything that felt like it was falling apart ended up all right, unfolded to
reveal what I needed to know and understand, and fell into its rightful places.
as many tears that I have cried, shed, and that have rolled down my cheeks, I
have smiled and laughed even more, harder, and louder. Especially at the small that seem to mean
nothing to others mean everything to me—like jumping into 16 feet of water! :-) I am easily fascinated and excited by the
little in life! I love and treasure
magical moments that I both create and find when least expected!
Funny that as I’ve
aged older in numbers and as my body has undergone even more, the younger and
more free I feel and am. Funny that I
feel old and young at the same time. I
spent so much wasted time worrying throughout my life that if I could just meet
with child Mary Wu again, I would look her straight in the eyes, wipe her
tears, hug her hard, and exclaim: “Don’t worry!
Don’t take life so seriously when there is so much serious in your life
and in this world! Everything has a way
of working out! Just enjoy, love, live, laugh, and, most of all, let magic
envelope you to fascinate and enthrall you!”
Here I am now as an
adult. No longer a child. Magic is not only for the chronological age
of a child, but is needed and vital even more so as we get older and life gets
tougher. Better late than never that I
finally do this—party, celebrate, feel, make, and find the magic especially in
the most mayhem of moments. There is so much in life that tries to stop us when they need to move us to make magic. Never lose
your sense of wonder, fascinating, magic, and awe and especially at the worst rather
than only the best.
What would you say to
your child you? What have been and are
your magical moments? What magic are you
making and finding in life at its worst and best? What is magic to you?
I hope you always
make and find magic. There is magic
everywhere—it is just a matter of creating, seeing, loving, and living in it!
Keep smilin’ until we
The truth comes
out. I won’t lie. I won’t even try. I wanted to win the gold medal.
I craved the shine
and sheen of the medal to blind me full of glory, applause, and confirmation
that all my hard work and efforts would announce loud and clear to all,
everyone, and, most of all, myself that I was a “winner.” After two months of training to dive and
backstroke and a lifetime of always being a non-athlete that stumbled over my
feet and was in modified gym classes, I believed that this 2016 Transplant
Games of America would be the time that I was given the ‘gold medalist’
Well, I did not win
the gold medal. I won much more.
The truth is that I’ve
never been an athlete. I’m not a sports
fan by any means. I’ve never understood
the gusto and competitive sides and even beasts that come out in a sports
game. Throughout my life I’ve struggled
with running, jumping, sprinting, hopping, skipping, and even swimming and
walking. I’ve never won any
symbolic “winner” rather than “loser” item—a trophy, medal, or even a
I’ve always been
last. I’ve always stood on the sidelines
or sat on the bleachers, watching in wide-eyed awe at the gift of movement and
motion from others that were and are stronger, taller, and faster.
The one thing I can
do and still do to this day is this: I’ll be your best and loudest cheerleader
full of exuberance, exhilaration, and excitement.
However, let me tell you how loud life can get. There does come a
point that sitting down in a slump is not an option and standing up tall is the
only option. This point happens when
life starts talking—loudly. Life will loudly
intervene for an end to waiting, wanting, and wishing and a start doing,
playing, and acting. Life screams when the
possibility of death occurs and when struggling and fighting begins in your
very own ‘race.’ When has life screamed and got loud for you to stand and not
sit? To act and not say? To play and not just wish away?
After competing in my
third Transplant Games of America, I’m
learning that the truest of athletes and winners is not someone who plays the logistics and rules of the game
with the single view to win the gold
medal, but someone who has passion, motivation, sportsmanship, and is about ‘we’
over ‘me.’ Anyone can play the game, but
how many can persevere and persist in the game when are at the very end of the
rope, trying the best in worst of circumstances, slower than everyone else, and
fighting to make it to the finish line?
I gained more gold
than I have in this Transplant Games of America than I have in one single
medal. I dove for the first time in a 50
free. I jumped in 16 feet of water in
the company and companionship of fellow transplant recipients. I did a surprise 50 back stroke in a team
relay medley where we won a bronze medal.
My teammate and I ended up winning a gold medal in cornhole all because
she stuck by me when I didn’t even have the energy to throw the dang bean bag anymore.
I experienced the power of friendship
when my very good friend who could not swim anymore sat and stayed with me to
complete my 50 free and hug me so hard that I started crying just thinking of
my organ donor families. I reunited with
one of my favorite families who had lost their heart transplant recipient son
and fellow swimmer friend of mine. I
hugged organ donor families as hard as I could constantly thinking of mine and
just hoping peace and love for them wherever they are and whomever they
are. I hope to make them proud just by
me living and continuing to be the best version of myself in whatever I do in
this ‘race’ and journey of life. All these single valued and priceless moments with every single person are precious shiny and sheen gold.
My ‘gold’ is ‘life.' Simply being alive, to live, to move, have fun, savor, and have fun because of both of
my organ donor families. I’ve never been
and still do not consider myself a competitive person against others because
the greatest competitor, the greatest enemy, and the greatest race I am in day
after day is with me, myself, and I. And, isn’t that like all of us that we are in
our very own ‘race’ everyday to fight, live, and just keep on going and moving
and treasuring and valuing the beauty and the joy in the little things that
mean the most? What have you ‘won’ and
what are you still winning in life? Do
you consider yourself an athlete? What actually
makes an athlete? What actually makes a ‘winner’? What is your ‘gold’?
I did not win the
gold medal. I am still winning so much
more ‘gold.’ For all this and more, I am blessed and grateful.
Keep smilin’ until we
It started out as a
dream. It almost always starts out with
a dream that results in me either lying lazily in bed reflecting upon it or
sitting up straight to execute it.
In this dream, I was
in the music store searching for two piano books: “Les Miserables” and a red
piano book that taught the very beginner basics of piano. When I finally found them, I delivered them to
my friend with a request: “Please teach me the piano.”
This was one of the
I think the piano was
a somewhat symbol of my biological mother—she was the one who forced me to
learn how to play the piano at 7-years-old, but more so for the final recital
where I remember feeling pretty for the first time in my life in a rich royal
purple velvet dress and my hair wove tightly in two braids. I was truly a terrible piano student! Now, I’m trying to make up for this. I don’t know how my piano teacher put up with
me as the bad piano child student who never paid attention or practiced,
fidgeted relentlessly, and rolled my eyes that this must just be a waste of my
Once I placed my ten
fingers on the keys gently, I thought and hoped everything, something, or maybe
just anything would come back to me. Nothing.
Not a note. Not a chord. My fingers were clumsy and nearly fearful of
the 88 black and white keys.
Nonetheless, I was invigorated and eager to learn. To learn, I needed to practice. To practice, I needed a piano.
Apparently, finding a
piano to play and practice on was harder than I could have ever imagined. Public libraries rejected me. Nursing homes didn’t call me back. Churches were up in the air. All because of possible liability and property
I was begging anyone
to practice on a piano, and the mass majority of responses were: “You are not
allowed to practice on our baby grand or public piano that is only meant for
I sputtered, “But, I
don’t need to practice on a fancy piano.
I’ll practice on any piano that has 88 keys!”
A music conservatory
finally came through with allowing me to rent the space with a piano in it for
$25 per hour, splitting it a half hour each session. Melodious music embraced me as soon as I
entered. One of the first questions I
was asked once I was told which room I could practice in was: “Do you need an
instructor at all?”
“No, I have a great
The woman looked
dubiously at me, “Does she have a Masters degree?”
I was stunned and
immediately said, “Yes.”
Marching up to the
rented room to meet my first piano to practice on that ended up being a “Steinway,”
I shook my head in confusion wondering: “What’s with all this needing to
practice on a baby grand piano and the instructor mandated to have a Masters? All I want is a piano to practice on! I’m grateful for whatever I can get.”
My determination and
pain-in-the-ass persistence finally resulted in playing and practicing on four completely
different pianos this past week. One in the
plush and regal music conservatory with the sounds of virtuosos in the making. Two pianos at two of my friends’ homes. All
three pianos were cared for a maintained meticulously with being tuned at least
twice a month (or more) and the cover open to reveal intricate parts that released music. Then, finally, I received permission from one
of the local churches to practice on one of their supposedly second rate pianos
after I confirmed with her, “I don’t need to practice on your baby grand
piano! I just need to practice on a
piano! Anything! I’m grateful for anything!”
Finding this piano
was half the battle. When I entered the
room, there was no piano to be found.
Only rounded tables and matching beige chairs to follow. I searched everywhere and, finally, the
sunlight streaming through the window caught on a cloth covering what had to be the body of
a piano. I had almost given up finding
it because it was so tucked away in seclusion.
When I removed the
sheet, this dusty and old piano greeted me.
It had clearly been abandoned and left unmaintained and uncared for. To most, it probably would have been
considered an eyesore. To me, it was the
most beautiful piano I could have ever seen, and I couldn’t be more thankful that I was going to be the one to try to give it love to make music once again.
When I gently pressed
on the keys, they stuck and required more exertion from me. Memories flooded back when I was a little
girl that did not care or appreciate learning how to play the piano, or my
piano instructor. I had taken all of
this for granted as a child and now this was all I wanted as an adult. When do we gain appreciation and
gratitude? Is it only when we no longer
have it? Is it that awareness of
appreciation and gratitude are not realized until we are adults?
I felt a sharp
sadness for this pitiful piano that had been bereft of any love and music
released from it for who knows how long?
What songs had this piano played?
When was the last time music came from it? Who had stroked and pressed the keys only to
finally push it to the corner, forgotten and uncared for?
I think there are
certain things, times, and moments we appreciate and value more when we are
older than younger and when we no longer have it or can no longer get it
back. Was there something from your childhood
you did not care for that, most likely, your parents forced you to do that
you wished to make up for it as an adult?
What have you taken for granted and appreciated even more after it was
gone and as an adult rather than a child?
I do not know how
long I stayed in this room by myself.
But, I wasn’t alone. I was with
this abandoned piano. But, it was not to
be abandoned anymore. I was a
beginner. This piano was advanced. We would find a way to make music together
for as long we could make it.
Keep smilin’ until we