Little Story #004: Me Duele

In 2001, I was admitted to the hospital every couple of weeks to receive treatment. Because I was seventeen and still considered a child, and because I received treatment at a county hospital, I shared a room with three other little ones and their parents. If you didn’t know, nights at a hospital are far from peaceful. There’s the constant beeping of machines, the nurses stabbing you awake with a needle to draw blood, poking to check sugar levels for some, toilets flushing due to the nonstop pumping of fluids, and doctors coming and going and talking to you or others around you as though it was day. If the sounds and poking didn’t keep you awake, the crying did.

I remember one night when I found myself asleep in the midst of all the noise, I woke up to a boy crying in the bed next to mine. “Me duele, me duele,…” It was dark and I didn’t know what was happening behind the curtain dividers. He continued crying me duele, me duele, and no one seemed to be able to console him. At seventeen, I was able to tolerate pain and discomfort, but it was different for the little ones. How could they know; how could they know how to endure such pain. His cries broke my heart. His words broke my heart, and I prayed,

Lord, please hear his cries. The boy is hurting. Please take away his pain...

Now when I lie awake at night thinking about prayers and tomorrow’s plans, sometimes I think of the little children in hospitals and hear echoes of me duele. I pray for the children. I pray the Lord will give the children in hospitals a peaceful, painless night. To comfort their little bodies, to wipe away their tears, to let them hear His voice.

To be in pain no more.

Rejuvenation

Central Park, NY (Nov. 2010)

Hello to my two, three readers,

How are you?

I’m feeling all the fall feels with the onset of cooler weather. 70-something feels so good. To make it even more perfect, rain would be amazing. When our previous church pastor, who is now retired, prayed for rain, it would rain that week out of the blue. This happened at least twice. He doesn’t live in California anymore, so maybe it’s time we pray for rain. Rain feels like such a distant memory and I long for the day it will wash away all that’s burnt, because fires and ashes have been our summer weather. The Lord has confined us into our homes not only because of covid but because the outdoor air itself has been deadly. Whatever His purpose, He has made it clear that we had to be indoors and secluded this year.

I’ve been off chemo for the past month, and that also feels so so good. In a way, being off chemo has been my rain. I am flushing out the chemicals and my body feels recovery, if not, restoration.

My real skin is coming back and I forgot what my actual skin felt like. It’s been a year and a half of what I would call my battle of epidermis hydration. I’ve written about it far too many times. Was my skin always supposed to be this soft and not bumpy/flakey? There was a point right before I stopped chemo when my whole torso and bottom was covered in a rash and my scalp was oozing out yellow puss because I had been scratching it too much. It really looked and felt like I had a severe skin disease and I felt so disgusting and sick. The mental and physical agony was unbearable. The chemo wasn’t working and my body had had enough. I had had enough. Everyone has a breaking point and my body was telling me it had reached its limit and the medicine was doing more harm than good.

Currently I am waiting to start my new treatment regime. I have one more week to enjoy a little bit of normal life.

Normal feels amazing. Being able to breathe, eat, rest, work, read, walk, all without physical pain.

Is this what it feels like to live.

Let me tell you, not being ill… is a wonderful gift.

Being ill is also a gift, but you know what I mean.

I was watching Stranger Than Fiction this past week, one of my favorite films, and when Dustin Hoffman’s character (Professor Hilbert) concludes that Will Ferrell’s character (Harold Crick) is not in control of his own life, Professor Hilbert tells Harold, “…You could just eat nothing but pancakes if you wanted.” Harold Crick angrily responds, “What is wrong with you? Hey, I don’t want to eat nothing but pancakes, I want to live!” And then Professor Hilbert replies, “Harold, if you pause to think, you’d realize that that answer is inextricably contingent upon the type of life being led… and, of course, the quality of the pancakes.”

That was it.

The life I want to live is not about worrying how long I will live.

What I do today for His glory is all that matters and at the end of it all,

I will have lived a life well-lived.

A Time for Everything

~2009, in my Oakland apartment

I’m amazed at people who say they don’t regret anything.

I regret so many things…

Why didn’t I do this? Why did I do that? What was I thinking? Why wasn’t I thinking?

But as I look back and think about my present, I accept that the past was a season in life, however foolish I may have been, it was a season.

What have I learned from those seasons of regrets and mistakes?

What can I do now that I won’t regret later?

That is the conundrum I face these days…

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-17

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

15 Whatever is has already been,
    and what will be has been before;
    and God will call the past to account.[b]

16 And I saw something else under the sun:

In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
    in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

17 I said to myself,

“God will bring into judgment
    both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
    a time to judge every deed.”

In the Heat of Summer

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Lately I’ve been experiencing intense, action-suspense-filled dreams. It’s been stressful to sleep and I often wake with my head and body aching from imaginary jumping from building to building, crawling through a basement somewhere, and getting chased by imaginary assassins. What is this madness.

I blame the heat. (Currently 95 degrees at 7:20pm).

Here’s what I’ve been doing to escape:

  • Wake up early and head somewhere cooler, i.e., the beach. In my experience, beaches are pretty empty in the mornings on weekdays.
  • Watch Cari Cakes on YouTube. She lives in Seoul and her vlogs feel very inviting. I especially like her music choices and snippets of street views as she visits different parts of the city.
  • Make shaved ice. Recently my sister bought us a Japanese shaved ice machine that shaves ice to milky smooth consistency. We grew up with the manual kind where the ice turned out uneven and crunchy, so this fancy machine is a major upgrade from our childhood. I love a good bingsoo (Korean shaved ice). Because of covid, we haven’t been able to visit any of our favorite shaved ice shops, but now we can make them at home! Y says he grew up with the manual machine as well and his parents would pour orange juice on the shaved ice and that was it. That is so funny to me! Just shaved ice and orange juice. He made himself a bowl recently and closed his eyes to savor the one flavor, saying, “Ah, this is my childhood right here.” Elaine seemed to like it too. Maybe there’s something to it. haha.
  • Read in the evenings with the windows wide open and the fan on. There is something nostalgic about reading in the evening in the summer “breeze”.
  • Plan next year’s vacations. Now’s the time to book those flights and hotels. Hopefully, it’ll be safe to travel and covid will be (nearly) gone by next summer. Please Lord, please disintegrate every molecule of its existence and may there be no mutant variants. If anything, flight and hotel agencies have lenient cancellation policies, so there’s no harm in wishful planning. My future may be uncertain, but looking forward to something makes life in the future a little more tangible..

Faith & Prayer

From Mark 9:14-29:

There was a boy who was mute and suffered seizure-like episodes because of an unclean spirit. The disciples couldn’t cast it out and Jesus answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me,” and continued to inquire from his father how long this has been going on. The father later states, “‘But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” At the end of the passage, the disciples ask Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the spirit, and Jesus responds, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

From Mark 11: 12-25:

When Jesus was hungry and approached a fig tree without any fruit, he rebuked it and the next day it had withered away to its roots. When Peter asked Jesus about it, the lesson was “Have faith in God.” This was an odd connection, I thought, because what does a withered fig tree have to do with faith? I first assumed the lesson would be about how a tree that bears no fruit would be cut off (like John 15:1-5). Jesus states, “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” [Side note: Matthew 21:18-22 shows how Peter asked, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” compared to Mark where it states that Peter said, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered, ” and Jesus responding to him to have faith. Jesus’s response makes better sense in Matthew but the lesson is the same.]

Do I pray with such faith? Faith to move mountains, faith for the impossible? Do I believe in the power of prayer to know that it is a superpower God has given us, that truly, “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37),

O Lord, please provide me faith for the impossible,

and faith not to worry or be saddened about what will happen to my beloved, knowing that Your plan is good and perfect.