It was almost a year ago this coming February when I crossed the river and said goodbye. I was in rural Costa Rica, trying to complete a teaching internship for graduate school back in the States when it finally dawned on me that the water I’ve been retaining was embarking on its unhealthy stages. Following the urging of a dear, dear friend, I saw a doctor, who eventually advised me to return home because of possible kidney failure. I was in denial. But after some reflection, I decided to call home and fly back to New England the next morning.
I hurriedly packed my bags and shed copious tears with caring colleagues, new friends, and concerned students. I arrived in Providence, facing the new, damaged me on the other side of that river.
I was petrified. But I wasn’t alone.
I returned with many arms outstretched to help me. On that icy and stormy evening, two of my most precious friends came to my rescue and drove me at midnight to the emergency room in Providence, my home away from whatever I call home. I lied down on the gurney, puffed and exhausted, next to my saving angel, a woman I consider to be my second mom. There, she sat with me for hours as my mind churned with increasing thoughts of discouragement.
Once my doctor uttered the diagnosis of lupus nephritis two weeks later, hopelessness was not the road I took. With the endless help and support from my mother, my family and friends all over the east and west coasts, I soon realized this: I believe in tenacity and second chances. Life did not give up on me that easily and I realized that I didn’t give up on it that freely either. Not too long before the diagnosis, I was enjoying life as it was. Now, I am enjoying it immensely. I have seized my second chance and I’m not letting go.
When I decided to continue with my studies — despite the constant rigmarole of medication, check-ups, doctor visits, commuting, and yes, fear of regression– I came to understand that to stay focused is to stay strong, to be living, breathing, and being thankful is to stay strong.
To persist is to triumph over any obstacle, especially when facing my old self on the other side of that river. So maybe it wasn’t entirely a goodbye after all, but a ‘so long for now’ instead.
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