How to Say Goodbye

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This weekend, we said goodbye to Grandma and conclude a 2-week ordeal of watching her slowly pass away.  I’ve never had to watch someone die.

About two weeks ago I went to visit her at hospice care. Something was so ominous about that visit. It was the last time I saw her alive. When I came into her room Uncle Tony was also there. She was between asleep and awake. Her food tray lay untouched. Uncle said that she hadn’t eaten all day. There were some days she’d want to eat, and others when she would. And I use the word ‘eat’ very loosely. If she wanted to, she’d eat some puree stuff or yogurt. Uncle and I tried to feed her but she took in very little of the vanilla puree. She’d keep her mouth shut and shake her head no.

On this day we had the opportunity for the two of us to sit, just grandmother and granddaughter. I was saying to her that it was ok for her to let go. I also told her I was sorry that I never got to write her story. I had always imagined that my great novel would revolve around her life. Many times I’ve thought to bring a voice recorder to visit her and ask her questions about her life, about what it was like to live life under Japanese invasion, life as a single mother and starting life again as an immigrant. I think I did it once but I remember it was very difficult because at that point she had trouble hearing me. I felt the guilt that all writers know- the guilt of the unwritten story. But this time my guilt felt doubly weary and heavy, thinking that I owed this story to grandma. I wept at her bedside, believing I had somehow failed her.

When she saw my tears, she frowned gravely and with great difficulty tried to pull her arms up and over the covers. At first I thought she was motioning that she wanted something. Grandma hadn’t been able to talk in awhile. I looked around to see what she could want and she instead grabbed my hand. I wept even more. I was there to comfort her, but little did I know that she was there to comfort me. I held her hand tight and it was still so warm. Her body was wasting away and she was refusing food, but there was still this fire of life in her. This little old lady wanted to be there in that moment to comfort her granddaughter who was weeping over her. I had to laugh out loud at the terrific irony. So I said, ok grandma I’m stopping, I’m stopping, as I wiped my tears away and managed a smiled. She smiled back. I remember thinking that I don’t remember the last time I held her hand.

I feel weary. Chin died not even 2 months ago and now grandma. My heart has felt so heavy. I find it hard to believe that the same God who bestows blessings, is the same one who takes away. One night, I remember asking David why I had to feel such sadness like this. He said, “You have family and friends…” And I wouldn’t have it any other way. To be blessed with family and friends means experiencing laughter, affection, and love. It also means knowing that one day you’ll have to let go and say goodbye. This year, God has taken two of my loved ones, but He also gave me David and He continues to shower His blessings on me. God’s also given me pen and paper to write.

One of the last things I told Grandma was that I would need her help in writing my story. I told her I wasn’t any good and I would need her to send whatever heavenly help she could.

In Grandma’s last moments I’m sure she was thinking about everything she hadn’t done and was maybe filled with a bit of regret. She’s not here now and I hope she’s made her peace with whatever was holding her down. She’s run out of time, but I haven’t. I have a story to write.

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Top 10 Reasons I’m Happy to be Thirty-One

at-peaceToday is my 31st birthday. If it were any other point in my life, I’d probably lament this fact. But no, I am rejoicing in my ‘seasoned’ age. My journey this past year was difficult, but God has been kind. To that end, I’ve made the following list of the Top 10 Reasons I’m Happy to be Thirty-One.

1) I’m not 21 anymore. I don’t make stupid mistakes with alcohol, my money or with men.

2) I have the means to enjoy life. I can pay for a vacation getaway or I can treat myself to a nice dinner without asking for help.

3) I have a kickass job. It took a long time to get here.. from odd job to odd job, to working for free, working in shitty retail and working in corporate enslavement. I’ve paid my dues and am reaping the benefit of my craft.

4) I know who my friends are. Not the ones on Facebook- the ones who pick you up while you lie in your own vomit and answer your phone call when you’re weeping incoherently.

5) I won’t take crap from anyone. I recognize the disingenuous, the selfish and the unkind and I will not tolerate any of that in my life.

6) I know when to ask for help. I’m not Super Woman. I can be fragile and vulnerable. I recognize those moments and know how to get through it. This is where strength and courage are born.

7) I know God is real. I don’t wonder about the direction of my life or what my purpose is. I do the things that make me happy because I know that’s what God wants for me.

8) I know love. I’ve been through the grind enough times to see a good and genuine man when I see one.

9) I value my health. I know I’m not going to live forever. I take care of myself to ensure that I can be here for as long as God lets me.

10) I know what I want. No more quarter life crises and existential quandaries to wade through. I want to be happy. I want a life fulfilled by art and creativity. I want a man who will love me and climb over my walls of self-doubt to relentlessly remind me of how strong and amazing I am and how far I’ve come. I want to serve God by my craft and contribute to this world by being the best human being I can possibly be.

I’m happy about my birthday. It will be the launching point to bigger and better.

One Day, One Year

one_dayAnd just like clockwork, Cristern stayed true to his promise: He texted me on the eve of the 1 year anniversary of when we broke up. He was texting to ask if we could meet. Some context: Around this time last year, I had become obsessed with the book and film, One Day. The novel tells the story of two main characters who fall in and out of love throughout the years; through marriage, divorce, children, the two remain friends and stay in touch. And no matter where they were in their respective lives, married, single, on the other side of the world, or right across town, they made a pact that once a year on July 15th, they would somehow get together and meet. September 27th was me and Cristern’s One Day.

The night of my breakup, Cristern made me the very first promise he ever made in our 3.5+ year relationship. He promised that in one year, he would contact me. I believe my reaction to this proposition was, “You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kiddin me. You get romantic on me NOW?’ I asked him what was supposed to happen on this supposed One Day and he said we’d meet and ya know… see how things would go. Bullshit. I wasn’t going to plan my life around a desperation move. This was a ploy so that he could always keep me as an option. Well I certainly refuse to be anyone’s option.

When I received the text, I looked at it for a moment to let it soak in. I was baffled but also not surprised. Baffled, because he still had the audacity to contact me after all the shit he pulled, but also not surprised because he’s been playing the part of a bleeding martyr. To his credit, the text was very nonchalant (or at least trying to be):

“I don’t know if you remember but we wanted to meet up after a year. Well that day is tomorrow. Still wanna meet?”

I have to laugh when I read it. It kinda gives off that hey ya, I’m a cool guy and I totally got this. When in reality, it actually reads more like a coward coming back with his tail between his legs. I felt sorry for him. Clearly, nothing had changed. But I have to give him kudos – how was a text like that supposed to read without sounding too desperate? I don’t even know how I would begin to write something like that. Oh wait, I would NEVER do that because I don’t believe in tethering someone to such a stupid and selfish promise.

When we initially broke up, and then when I got together with David, there was always a part of me that said I would meet up with him. Mostly, just to be kind and get my books back. But then I took a step back and thought long and hard about the real function of that day. That day was for him- not me.  It was a status check to evaluate whether or not I was dateable in his eyes. It was to see if I had changed and had gotten better.

Sorry buddy, I’m still the same- and I kinda like it that way.

I am of course human and do feel bad about not replying. But really, who would I be helping if I did that? He needs to move on and no one can help him on that journey. He has to own it and want it.

I believe in prayer and believe that any good thought is like energy and it can travel anywhere and reach the person you’re praying for. That night before I went to bed, I prayed to him and for him: “I hope you forgive me, like I forgive you.”

There is nothing left to say after that. Maybe one day he’ll understand.