When you go home, regardless how much you think you know a place, there is almost always the unexpected. I was only returning to Hawaii for 2 weeks, what could possibly happen, right?
My mom had just gotten the results of some blood work that claimed she had the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. So, part of my time there was educating her on the fact that EVERYTHING has sugar in it. She also has high cholesterol, but she’s had that for years. Talking about her diet made me think about how I take care of myself. It’s easy for me to ignore the fact that I’m healthy and younger, and not apply these things to me, but I won’t do that.
Then she accidently fell while gardening. She’s fine. She’s almost 70, after all, but seeing your mom get older with those real repercussions added another sobering dimension to my visit. Thankfully she’s got medical insurance. She’s also very independent and has many friends. But life has turned when her vulnerability seems greater than mine.
I hadn’t seen family and friends for over 5 years. Most of the visible changes were with my cousins who I hadn’t seen since they were kids and now they are in college! My grandma seemed more frail and emotional. I used to hang on her every word in an effort to record what little is left of our connection to China, but I’ve since realized her memory can’t be trusted.
Talking and catching up with family and friends online is simply not the same as seeing them face to face. Many of my mom’s friends, my aunties, who I’ve known since I was a kid or a teenager have aged in startling ways only because I haven’t thought about it, and as I looked at them I thought about our mortality and the fact that this ride is slowing down and ending sooner than we want to imagine.
Then I learned, upon seeing an old friend that I needed to say that I was angry about something that had happened years ago. He was surprised and after the confession I realized the other person involved was wrong to have included him in his drama. I learned that I still harbored old feelings of insecurity towards my high school friend, but I sat with my old feelings and we had a gentle talk. These were powerful reminders that people and places stir up long forgotten emotions and whisper that there is still a test to pass.
There is a global financial crisis that I keep hearing about, too. It’s bound to happen soon. Apparently printing money you don’t have isn’t a smart thing to do. Actually, I find this terrifying because I’ve never lived in a time where my currency could potentially become like Confederate dollars, useless. And I don’t see this as a conspiracy theory, but a real problem with government mismanaging money and the ultra rich continuously getting away with murder.
This, coupled with the news that my high school friend suddenly died of a heart attack, has left me thinking about how much time do we really think we have here? He was just on my FB wall making smart ass remarks and making me laugh. Life got smaller because he was such a fireball and my heart goes out to his 5 year old that he left behind. I don’t understand it.
I can’t take anything for granted anymore. I don’t believe in guarantees. And it’s not like I haven’t shared my own gratitude journey, written a gratitude journal or meditated on these kinds of things. I do the work, but it doesn’t mean unjust things don’t happen anymore. I think that’s part of the problem with over doing self-help or positive thinking crap. There is no silver lining when great tragedy strikes and if you are claiming there’s one it’s because you aren’t the one directly affected by it. Let’s be real and let us be sensitive.
// I’m glad I made the trek back home. I saw the people I needed to see.
// I ate the food that I love and can’t get anywhere else in the world. I think special is just the way food tastes when it comes from home.
// I got to go through family photos and experience memory lane with new eyes.
// Although, I couldn’t escape Thai holidays as they followed me home. You can take the girl out of Thailand, but…
// Going Stateside also allowed me to order physical copies of my book and hold them in my hands for the first time. It was nice. I donated a copy to my local library and the manager told me that it’s currently going through collections and cataloguing. I hope it makes its way to the shelves! Thanks to those who reviewed it on Amazon because the library manager asked me if my book had reviews – I guess it helps! I had no idea.
// And thanks to Otter Mei, who emailed to say that she’s grateful for me, just out of the world wide blue. You are loved, too.