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Absence Alternatives

There is a hole in me from missing my mother and it goes that every stream of my consciousness diverts in that direction.

Everything reminds me of her. 

My mom passed away from an auto-immune disease that was, in the end, not fully diagnosed. She died from suffocation as we watched and waited helplessly.

When I went home and stayed in the hospital with her last January, she was still able to remove the oxygen mask a few seconds at a time to speak. By March however the decision was between eating and speaking as she refused the feeding tube. 

I still wonder every single day what went through her mind as she laid there those few months, fully conscious as her body attacked her lungs. What was she trying to say as my brother and I rushed to her bedside after they allowed us in the ICU? What was in her silent scream and stare as she struggled to get up with her wrists and legs bound and an intubation tube strapped to her head? 

When she was still able to talk, she’d made us promise that she would not be intubated. I’d never seen my mother so angry before. I’d never seen her angry. 

A few days before the doctors moved her into ICU, I laid my head down on the bed by her side. She smoothed my hair and felt the tremble from my soundless cry. She gestured to the oxygen mask for me to remove it. 

“It’s ok. I’ve led a happy life.”

I would give up anything to remember that as the last thing she said to me.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tell one’s stories

April 30, 2017

in random

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

This has been the question on my mind since I watched The Founder last night.

Starring Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman (aka Ron on Parks and Recreation, one of the best characters in TV history) and John Carroll Lynch, the movie is based on the true story of how the McDonald’s business empire came to be. Ray Kroc an embattled salesman with a series of failed ventures under his belt maneuvered himself into the McDonald brothers’ burger business and took their speedy food concept to build a massive global enterprise. In developing the origin story for McDonald’s, for Kroc understood the essential connection between myth building and empire building, he erased the (his)stories of the McDonald brothers.

It’s as if he’d built a time machines and changed the past. Kroc alone was the founder.

This erasure and how easy it seemed was disconcerting if not downright terrifying. What does this mean to the ordinary people like us who’ve led ordinary lives? This is why we tell each other’s stories. Storytelling is remembering is history making is bearing witness to lives lived. 

 

 

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I miss my mom. I miss my dad too. Both of them gone in less than one year. I learned in this past year, and more acutely, in the past month, that to grieve is to isolate yourself. We are each alone in our grief.

It’s a cliche but I did not realize that your heart can actually hurt from missing someone so much. Wishing so much.

It’s the wishing that hurts. Wishing so hard that your entire being start to contract, to collapse upon itself. A hole forms. The wishing does not stop and you are turned inside out. 

You have no control over when the fact hits you: when you’re waiting for the red light to turn; when you are standing on the checkout line at the store; when you’re walking to the subway station. When the waves of profound sadness hits you, you need to pause to take a breath. It’s a different kind of sadness, different from the kind that makes you cry. It’s deep like the ocean.

No, let me try again.

It’s like when you get hit by a giant wave and you go under the water. For a split second, it feels like you’re enveloped in a vacuum. Your descent soundless. The absolute quietness around you almost calming. For that split second, your eyes are wide open and you can see clearly. And you think to yourself, “I’m ok.” Then, you gasp for air.

 

 

 

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Y’all are getting a piece of my mind when I am 80

January 7, 2017 therapy in session

One of my most popular posts was dated from 2012, “With all due respect, I am fucking scared of getting old“. It has struck a nerve and attracted comments from folks who feel helpless against the relentless forward march of time and, I suspect, the world’s time-honored obsession with and worship of youth. Almost five years […]

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Bucket list. Checked.

January 4, 2017 through the looking glass

It’s only January 4 and I’ve already checked an item off of my bucket list. Take that, 2017!   Hamilton did not disappoint despite all the hype. It’s everything it’s said to be and more. The book, lyrics and music by Lin-Manuel Miranda is a masterpiece and will withstand time to be one of the classics […]

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New Year’s Resolution part deux

January 2, 2017 random

I admire those who are quietly assertive and wish to learn their Jedi mind tricks. Luckily I have the following quote from Madeleine Albright and all I have to do is to apply it. So I made up this term, active listening¬†— you listen differently if you think you’re going to interrupt. The trouble is […]

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New Year’s Resolution: Make it up on volume

January 1, 2017 random

Happy New Year! We couldn’t wait for 2016 to end even though 2017, let’s be honest, is not going to fare better. To say that 2016 sucked is a gross understatement. My father passed away on April 10 while I was 7,447 miles away. I still haven’t processed this. I am working up to it […]

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2016 Presidential Debates or “What fresh hell is this?”

October 10, 2016 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

Winner: Fact checkers. They’ve been in high demand and kept busy. I hope they’re being paid per fact checked. Winner: Twitter. Once again, Twitter proved its relevance. Without Twitter, I would have thrown something at the TV or died from implosion, you know, all that screaming inside my head and my chest. Loser: All of […]

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Repeat: Gay rights are human rights

June 13, 2016 this i believe

The fifty people that were murdered in Orlando were our people. They’re not just “those people”. They’re you and me. I can see many thinking, “Why should I care? I am not gay. My children are not gay. I don’t know any gay people.” Gay rights are human rights. When you implicitly condone violence perpetrated […]

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On Facebook’s “On this Day” and Nostalgia

February 16, 2016 mark my word: twitter will doom us all

Dear Mark Z, congratulations on the new baby. And kudos for knowing¬†Chinese. I’ve just added you to the list of “See? These people can learn to speak Chinese. Why can’t you?” to show my kids. Oh, don’t worry. I am not asking you for money like Kanye West just did. To be fair though, he’s […]

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