I read somewhere once that to fully enjoy and celebrate the highs in our lives, we also had to open ourselves to experience the lows, the sadder, more painful moments. And only by experiencing all that life has to offer can we truly live life to the fullest. With that in mind, I write this post.
I actually wrote this piece on November 18, 2008 on a plane. I keep a small black notebook with me where ever I go to jot down interesting observations, any ideas that my suddenly creep into my brain or record any pressing thoughts. On the night of the 18th, I was on an Air Canada flight flying from Toronto back home to Los Angeles. I had spent the previous four days, sitting by my grandmother's bedside in a very gloomy hospital. My grandmother had fallen very ill and was now hooked up to a respirator - without which she could not breath. I was returning back to Los Angeles to deal with some personal affairs with the intention of returning to Toronto when they turned the respirator off. Fortunately for me and my family, my grandmother's fierce love of life persevered and when the respirator was turned off, she continued to breath on her own. My grandmother is alive weeks after doctors gave up hope, but is still weak and frail. Never have I been more aware of the intense gift of life and its fragility. Compelled at the time to express what I was feeling for her, I wrote this:
November 18, 2008
My grandmother is hooked up to a ventilator right now and for the past few days, I watched her chest rise and fall, as oxygen struggled to get past her scarred and damaged lungs into the rest of her body. There are so many tubes and pins going in and out of her, it pains me to see her like this. My grandmother. Her frail and delicate body is overwhelmed by the sterile machinery that surrounds her.
I am her first grandchild and with the novelty of being the first I was showered with so much love. And until my sister was born, I monopolized her all attention and affection. Now while she has ten grandchildren in all, she will always have been my grandmother first.
With each passing day, I fear she is drifting further away from me. And the language barrier we share (she only speaks Chinese and I barely make do) is now magnified by this physical toll. I watch her with her eyes closed in the hospital bed and I want to embrace her and thrust us both into a time warp to those days when she would burst with excitement when I would call her on the telephone to tell her I was back in Toronto and would be visiting her soon. I long to see her smile and laugh with robustness and tease my aunts and uncles. But instead she is quiet.
I don't know how much longer I have my grandmother on this earth with me, but I wanted the world, the universe to know that I love her and that I hope she forgives my long periods of absence and that my world is blessed and brighter because I know her and because I am loved by her.