I’m back, after being away almost a year and a half. My last post was on July 18, 2015, “Celebrating Kiwi’s Life”.
So what have I been doing all that time, you ask? Well, I wish I could say that I’ve been on a long relaxing vacation or an exotic adventure in some far away land. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. After my last post, I was feeling pretty low after losing my two sweet little furry sisters, so I stepped away from my blog to get myself back together again. I meant to come back after a few weeks, but the weeks turned into months, and things went from bad to worse. I felt like I was on this train and just couldn’t get off.
I boarded this train back in September 2014, when I lost my sweet Daxichi angel, Pikachu, to congestive heart failure. She was 15 years old. (A Loving Tribute For A Special Angel, posted on October 1, 2014) Less than a year later, in June 2015, still trying to wrap my head around losing her, I lost sweet Kiwi, my darling Yorke, to Cancer. She was 8 years old. (Celebrating Kiwi’s Life, posted on July 18, 2015)
During this period, my sister and I were also spending most of our time caring for our aging mom, too. She was still living in her home and wasn’t able to manage it anymore, nor was she able to care for herself. This was a stressful time for us trying to manage mom’s care and her home. As mom grew older and weaker, everything seemed to just snowball, until it felt like an avalanche. The past three years of my life have been filled with more twists and turns than a roller coaster ride in an amusement park. But, no matter how difficult and stressful, I just kept my focus on God and believed there was a reason why all this was happening. Little did I know, that in the months to follow, God would be throwing some curve balls, and my faith would be tested.
Three months later, while still grieving the loss of my angel pets, I received a phone call from my baby brother, Nick. He was just diagnosed with terminal Cancer. I was devastated with this news, and couldn’t get over the shock. I felt so mixed up and filled with so many emotions. I couldn’t stop my tears as memories of my brother when he was little kept flashing through my mind. I just wanted the train to stop, so I could jump off! As it was, this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Before the year ended, in December 2015, just four months after my brother’s diagnosis, my 90-year-old mother was placed on Hospice due to Congestive Heart Failure, and was given four months to live. As we sat in the doctor’s office, I remained calm throughout. Even with this news, I still didn’t freak out. I just kept going. Praying was my way out through everything.
The thought of losing my brother and my mother was so painful, but I wasn’t angry or depressed. I just kept praying. Prayer and trusting God has always been my way of dealing with everything. “I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me”. This has always been my inspiration, and my source of strength and empowerment to keep going. We all face setbacks in life, and find our own ways to deal with them. For me, it’s always been Trusting God, Letting Go, and Letting God.
I became a grandmother for the first time! Amidst all this adversity, I have been blessed with a baby grand-daughter, Ellie. My first and only grandchild, to date, was born on August 10, 2015, just two days before my birthday. This was one of those special moments in a person’s life that is so epoch. To see your first grandchild for the first time and see yourself or your own children in their eyes.
It’s a second opportunity, a second chance to change your life.
My Eyes On The Rail
“It is what it is”, Nick said often, especially during his painful battle. I decided to focus on living, to “live my life for my brother”. My own trials were nothing but trivial, and I didn’t dare complain. Compared to what he was suffering through, I had no right to whine about anything in my life. My brother helped me to appreciate everything around me; that life was too short and too fragile, so just be thankful and live! Although he was in extreme pain, he was brave and tried so hard to spare us his pain. He fought throughout his journey with courage and dignity.
Nick loved his family and friends and he showed everyone that loving and caring about them was important to him. He had a gentle, humble, loving, and warm spirit, and was always smiling. His smile was infectious.
Nick’s fight to live inspired me to live better and to accept what is. In October, I started a healthy diet and exercise regiment to build up my physical strength, and to bounce back healthier and happier. Being a fan of foreign movies, especially Bollywood, I found my rhythm and inspiration from the songs and music in the movies of Shah Rukh Kahn, also known as SRK, an Indian film actor, producer and television personality. With prayers, diligence, and exercise, by December, three months later, I had lost 12 pounds and felt like a different person. I was healthier and my energy was back.
So there I was, feeling great! I was at peace despite all life’s surprises. I didn’t know that the biggest test of my life was just waiting around the corner. My train ride was about to get even more twisted. In January 2016, after a routine mammogram, they found a shadow in my tests. WOW! This came from left field. I didn’t know how to wrap my head around this curve ball. So, I turned to God. I prayed, and promised God, “No matter what happens, I trust You, and will follow You wherever You want me to go”.
God On Board
That evening, I felt numb, but I was not depressed. There was a feeling of peace about me. I sat on my couch and hugged my dog, Coco as she showered me with hugs and kisses. It was as if she knew what was happening. I turned on Netflix on TV to watch a movie to get my mind free. I settled on another Bollywood movie, “The Lunch Box”, starring Irrfan Kahn. It’s about friendship that results from a mis-delivered lunchbox on a train. It’s a movie with an encouraging life lesson about placing your trust in someone else. The “Lunch Box” lifted my spirits just when I needed it. I knew God was on board with me.
There was a line in the movie that told me not to worry, that it was going to be okay…“Sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right station.” As I watched, I felt maybe, I was on the wrong train, but as I thought about everything that happened in my life up till now, I began to believe that I was where I was supposed to be; where God wanted me. I thought to myself, all those surprises was preparing me for the biggest test of my life. I needed to be physically, spiritually, and emotionally strong to be able to handle what God knew lay ahead of me.
A few days later, I got the call I was waiting for from my doctor. “It looks like you have Cancer”…those were the words I heard him say. Everything he said after that, I heard but the words were like an echo in the distant background. I was focused on those two words, Breast Cancer. The next day, everything just seemed to happen so fast. Doctors and hospitals were making appointments for me right and left, it was overwhelming.
I was going to be okay. The good news is they caught it early! So early, my doctor said it didn’t even have a stage yet…not even stage one, he said. No mastectomy, just a lumpectomy where they removed the tumor and got it all. Because I was at my best physical and nutritional health, I breezed through all my tests and surgery. Two hours after my surgery, I was already walking and moving freely without pain. I never had to take any pain meds. I healed so quickly from the surgery and radiation treatments with no side effects.
After my surgery, I underwent 21 radiation treatments while my brother battled his Cancer. I was filled with the guilt and sadness because I wanted him to be the one to live, not me.
Instead, Nick suffered through the chemo and the pain. He was my baby brother with two boys still attending college and had so much more to do with his family. I was 8 years older than my baby brother. On April 5, 2016, Nick, passed away. It was the last day of my radiation treatment.
I will never forget my brother’s courageous battle with Cancer and how he inspired me to live my life, because as he always said, “It is what it is”. I’ve accepted my cancer and though I don’t know what is ahead of me, I live each day seeing my brother’s smile and wake up every morning thanking God for today.
My mother celebrated her 91st birthday this past December. She was taken off Hospice a few months ago. As for me, no chemo, just meds, and I made it through my first year, negative of any malignancies.
The Right Station
Yes, I am a Cancer survivor, so far, but my journey goes on. It will be a long journey, but I’m staying on the same railway. My train ride is far from over, and I know there will be storms, wind and rain fighting its way to wreck my journey. I know we can’t redo our lives, because the train can’t go backwards, so I’m moving forward. There’s only one railway in our life, many forks to avert us, and no promise that we will get a second chance.
Through my journey filled with adversities, and my brother’s inspiring courage and fight to survive, I am working towards becoming all that my brother Nick was, a beautiful human being. I praise God for my second chance, and I thank Nick for showing me the way…
“Be grateful everyday for all the small things.”
- Spend your lifetime working towards a meaningful life, not a successful material life.
- Focus your priorities and values in living things, not material things.
- Put your heart in caring for others, not in keeping up with them.
- Be thankful for what you have today, not what tomorrow will bring.
- Put your efforts in living your life, not controlling it.
- Trust people you love into your hearts, as easily as you trust strangers into managing your finances.
- And last but not least…Don’t wait until you are too old, too sick, or too late because you are too busy looking for, and building your legacy and your fortune:
“your legacy is your family” and “your fortune is your children”
There were many adversities and forks that appeared in my rail to lead me astray, but surviving those trials, and staying on the path, helped me to be a better person for having gone through them. There is a reason for everything that happens in our life, no matter how trivial or how traumatic. It’s not about getting to our destination, but about the journey itself. It’s not about how you come out of it in the end, but about how you survived the journey and what you learned getting there. Did you fuel your train ride with anger, complaints, objections and disagreement? Or did you sit back with patience, dignity, courage, and thankfulness?
I know that my journey is not over yet. I expect there will be many more twists and turns to derail my train, but if I stay on the same railway, and not avert to other rails, I know that I will always reach the right station, because God is my conductor.
I leave you with a quote my brother Nick shared on his Facebook page a while back…
“Accept What Is, Let Go of What Was, and Have Faith in What Will Be”