God

Faith Is One Hell Of A Thing

There are few things I remember happening right after surgery. The drugs were kicking in and I said things that I would never be able to recall having said. There is one thing that I do remember though…

I was being pushed down a hall of white bright lights. I couldn’t see much. Fuzzy shadows surrounded me. I felt the warm comfort of someone’s hand intertwined with mine.
Ah, a mother’s touch. There’s nothing more comforting.
I had to tell her something. There was something on my mind. I couldn’t sift through my thoughts though. I wanted to cry. I tried. I couldn’t. I felt guilty. Disappointed with myself. Then the words came to me, “Mom, I haven’t been going to church. Ever since I went to university, I haven’t been praying. I haven’t been with God. This is why this happened. It’s punishment, Mom. It’s punishment.”

Looking back on it, after so much time has passed, I realize that I was wrong. If it weren’t for God’s love, I would have never made it. Ever.

Was it wrong for me to believe that God was punishing me? Probably not. It seemed rational at that point in time. This is a struggle that many people face in light of illness, death and other complications-making the decision to push God away or pull Him closer. Most of the time, people lose their faith. I almost lost mine.

My uncle spoke to me about making God a priority in life and his words changed my perspective on everything. He said, “God does not punish. He is forgiving. God protects us from all evil. He protected you from evil.”

The world fell into place. Whatever Helga was, she was evil and by God’s protection I am alive today.

I couldn’t attend Sunday mass while I was in the hospital, but mom and dad asked people from the church to bless me. They came multiple times. They all had faith and optimism-something that I not only needed, but also wanted.

I prayed every night before bed. Every single night. Dad said his prayers. Mom said her prayers. Heck, from what I heard all of Trinidad was praying for me.

My aunt was generous enough to open her house to the public and host a mass in my name. When I saw how many people showed up, I cried. So many different personalities and strangers held hands and prayed in unison. For me. It was not only my struggle, but the struggle of my loved ones as well.

I should never have to repeat this, but there is power in prayer. I don’t care if you believe in Buddhism, Zionism, Judaism, Christianity or whatever, just know that there is always a force of greater good looking out for you.

I have a guardian angel. One that clearly loves me. Being alive still shocks me everyday. I only made it through because of God’s love.

I’m living proof that prayers work. Never push God away. When things go wrong and you need guidance, pull God closer. He will protect you.

I stop everyone who says, “Oh, you’re so lucky to be alive.” They’re wrong. I am blessed.

A New Year, A New Me.

I’m over people who make stupid resolutions.
This year, I’ll stop biting my nails.
This year, I’ll stop getting blackout drunk and making out with randos.
This year, I’ll continue using deodorant.
STFU.

Surely, you can also argue that some people make totally impractical resolutions.
This year, I’ll get a promotion.
This year, I’ll end world hunger.
This year, I’ll learn how to speak whale.
No… You STFU too.
There is no way you can control these things.

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. If you’re trying to better yourself and your lifestyle, then you should do that every single day, whenever you spontaneously think of something – not just because it’s a new year.

                                        

When death stares you in the face, everything changes. I mean, everything. I don’t only want good health, but I want a better, pure life. So, here I am making 10 promises for 2014 even though I’m totally against New Year’s resolutions.

          1. God never gives you more than you can handle. Let him in.  In troubled times, I will not push him away, but rather pull him closer. I will look at stress and depression in the face and smile. No day should be miz. Every living day is a blessing. I just need to have the strength to accept things as they come. I am strong. I will only become stronger.
          2. Don’t talk shit about anyone. Just don’t do it. You never know what’s in someone’s heart until you truly know them. Accept people as they are, and if you don’t like them then pray for them.
          3. Fear is a friend who’s misunderstood (thanks John Mayer). I always thought about getting that lyric tattooed somewhere on my body. It’s just so intelligent. Fears are only an act of imagination and if you don’t have the strength to think of it in that manner, then every fear can be conquered and fought.
          4.  Walk more, sit less. When I couldn’t walk after surgery, I broke down. I felt like a child. So fragile. I promised myself, as long as I live, I will walk and stay active. I will also open my mind to new things and discover the world’s wonders. Being curious and learning new things each day will allow me to grow.
          5. Spend more time with family. I am so blessed to have such a large family. Some people don’t even have parents far less for cousins. I’m so lucky to have three grandparents still alive and in better health than me. They have stories to last a lifetime. It’s also important to make them feel special – because they are. If there’s one thing I learned during my days in the hospital, it’s that family will ALWAYS be there. No matter what.
          6. Enjoy life and embrace awesomeness. Most days, I’m tied up in homework or running my magazine. I’m always fussing over something. I never take the time to really count my blessings. It’s the little things that make life so precious. If you haven’t read The Book Of Awesome then you should get off of your ass and head straight to Barnes and Noble. Something so small as putting on underwear as soon as it’s out of the dryer, or walking barefoot in wet grass is what makes life special. We never take it into consideration. Every moment is awesome. I need to recognize that.
          7. Help others. There are so many people in the world with nothing. Rather than throwing coins in fountains and making wishes, you should collect change and donate it to your favorite charity. Every penny counts. More importantly, try not to donate. If you can psychically be present, then do it. Go on the street and help the homeless, go to a school and tutor the illiterate, go to an orphanage and play with kids.
          8. Be positive. A smile goes a long way. Instead of looking in the mirror and saying, “Ugh, I look like a beach whale,” say, “Damn, my eyes look gorgeous in this light.” Identify beauty and the good in everything and your life will change significantly. Buh-bye, negativity.
          9. Be honest. Be honest with yourself and everyone around you. Lies only lead to more lies. If you’re the girl who bursts everyone’s bubbles, at least you’re doing the right thing.
          10. Meditate. I have to do a million breathing exercises and it’ll take months till I feel back to normal. Taking 10 seconds a day to just sit down, breathe and reflect on life can make a huge difference. It also gives me a time to say thank you to God for all that he has done. Happiness will flow through my veins. I know it.

                                        

Right now, all of my friends and most of my family are in Tobago lying on a beach with the sand in their toes and the sea breeze in their hair. They’re all bringing in the new year together.

The rest of my friends are in NYC getting trashed, pouring champagne (or vomiting) all over the club’s floor, and ending the night with a really romantic sloppy midnight kiss.

I’m staying home with my family – home being Florida, not Trinidad.

I guess both Christmas and New Year’s wasn’t what I originally had in mind. But I am with family, and that makes up for the serious case of FOMO I’m experiencing.

The Beginning of the End

When you’re the editor of an on-campus publication and you’re a full-time student taking 18 credits, you’d do almost anything for a break – just one second to breathe. Not me, Sir. 

I love the rush. I love the busy life. Most importantly, I love school.

And, illness took that away.

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My alarm rings. Obviously, I press snooze 15 times before I actually drag myself out of bed. I stuff my face with cereal, my Keurig brews Starbucks’ best, I grab it and I’m on my way to magazine editing.

It’s 9 a.m. on Nov. 12th – just a regular Tuesday morning, or so I thought.

It’s 11 o’clock. Class is over. I go to Health Services and complain about a persistent dry cough that has lasted for two to three weeks.

At midday, the PA sends me for an x-ray.

Within minutes of doing so, the radiologists rush me into another room for a CT scan. What is going on? I thought, hmmm, maybe I just have bronchitis? Pneumonia? But, that be too simple for my complicated life.

It’s 2:30 now. I anxiously sit in the waiting room.

At 3 p.m., I get a shuttle back to Health Services and my world turns upside down.

“Well, Teresa, you have a mass in your lung. It’s almost the size of a tennis ball. It could be benign; it could be malignant.”

What do you mean? I might have cancer? Right now? But, I’m only 20-years-old. PSH! Teresa, be real, cancer doesn’t give two shits about how old you are.

“Call your mom.” No. 

How is that even possible? How do you tell your parents the worst news you’ve ever heard in your entire life? How do you do that without breaking their hearts?

My life is a movie. Cool. 

“Mom…..”

The PA grabs the phone, explains it all, and mom’s off to book flights and organize doctors appointments.

“If your family doctors are in Florida, you need to be there by tonight. You need to have a biopsy done tomorrow.”

“No, actually, my magazine launches next week. I can’t leave. I have things to do.”

“It doesn’t matter. Your health always comes first”

I know it does, but I still respond, “It really doesn’t….”

There and then, I burst into tears. All I have ever known is work. I pull all nighters as if it’s my primary job, I go above and beyond in every project I do just to stand out, and I stress for no reason – but, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t know life without the hustle.

As the PA said, “It doesn’t matter,” right?  I’ll be off to Florida in the morning whether I like it or not.

I cry, I moan, I scream.

And I cry.

Where did that get me? Nowhere, really, but it’s a bit of an emotional relief.

I watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians for 3 hours, and cry a little more (you would think that their pathetic lives might have made me feel better about mine – that was not the case).

My head is all over the place. This, that, there, then, who, what, where, when, why – “why” really stuck though.

Why me? Why now? Why this? Why, God? WHY? 

My aunt gave me a quote that stuck with me:

“Sometimes when you wonder why you can’t hear God’s voice during your trials, remember the teacher is always quiet during the test.”

So, God is with me. At all times. I just have to believe that his presence and love will be enough to pull me through whatever I have ahead of me.