I always wondered how I would survive adversity. As a life coach and meditation teacher, it was always easy for me to coach people and talk about living a positive life when things had always been perfect for me! I had a very happy life and with not much to worry about. Simply, easy!!!
It all began one year ago when my housekeeper of 12 years and truly my second hand had to leave on an emergency trip to her hometown to be with her twin sister as her son was killed unexpectedly. After 12 years of non-stop assistance, I had to manage my home with three boys, my husband and my in-laws coming for Christmas all on my own. What might seem like a piece of cake for anyone became a nightmare for me. She was leaving for five weeks!!! Help!!!
The five weeks went by and with several moments of radical complaining, I managed to survive!! In between we took a trip to see my parents and sister in Puerto Rico for our annual family New Year’s Eve reunion in the comforts of my home with my adored mom and dad always willing to cook for us and take care of my kids when we would go party. It was awesome!!!
We came back home and eventually my housekeeper made it back and life was back to normal.
It was the end of January when lightning stroke again. One of my dearest friend’s sons was involved in a tragic accident with major consequences involving a life lost and a jail sentence. It was another shock in my perfect life!!! Someone extremely close to me was going through a terrible nightmare that the majority of us could not understand. We had to come together as family to help them deal with the stress, sadness and grieve of losing in many different ways.
From that moment on nothing would ever be the same! I was constantly worried about my friend, her husband, her son and all affected by the tragedy. The phone calls to find ways to help were endless. The lack of sleep and the desire to repair something that couldn't be repair and the feeling of being hopeless were simply overwhelming.
March was a month with no news although my instinct was telling me that something was not right. I respect way too much my instinct and somewhere towards the end of that month and the beginning of April I sat down with my husband to talk about the importance of spending time with my parents. I was worried someday they would get sick and things would change. It was a serious conversation and I was making plans in my head of what I would do if that dreadful day would come. The sensation was eerie as if I had a premonition of something coming my way.
Not even two weeks passed when I got the call. It was Thursday April 16 in the evening when I heard my dad on the phone. "Jane, your mom is in the hospital. She fainted and it doesn't look good." I flew the next day early in the morning as my oldest sister was on vacation in Vietnam.
She was diagnosed with stage IV Glioblastoma, a dreadful cancerous brain tumor aggressive enough to put us on state of alert, extreme sadness, desperation and distress. I knew the outcome was not on the positive side as three years prior I had lost a very dear friend to the same disease.
It was the beginning of a very difficult battle with lots of uncertainty mixed with the reality of a ticking bomb with no exact expiration date.
As time was passing, we were open to trying any possible form of treatment with hopes of something sticking and counting on a miracle.
Summer comes and the time was upon us to take a trip that we had planned with my parents almost a year before. My mom was undergoing treatment so they asked us to go without them. It was sad leaving without them, but it was their wish to live through our photos and stories. We were hoping for an exciting trip with the kids under the circumstances.
As an adult I could understand having to face difficult times because it is part of the process. However, you never think of children having to suffer at an early age. I was already worried that they were going to have to deal with my mom's sickness and possible unwanted outcome, when once again I got the call.
We were all the way in Vancouver, Canada when my friend Vilma, mother of one my sons’ best friends called. "Jane, Oliver is in the hospital and I am extremely worried. He is very sick and the doctors don't know what it is. It can either be a virus or leukemia." What? Oliver? Our happy, energetic, soccer enthusiast, active Oliver? Impossible!!
I got the call on a Sunday afternoon. By Monday evening the diagnosis was in and Oliver had a very aggressive form of leukemia, extremely aggressive. I began to call all our friends, as I was too far away to be able to help. News like this travel fast and for Oliver, even faster. Tuesday came and the news were gruesome. Oliver was getting worse. His blood cell count was going down fast. He was not responding to treatment or any preventive measures. The situation was grim and Oliver's parents were going through hell. The odds were not in our favor. Oliver's body was shutting down slowly, yet way too fast. By Wednesday evening it simply didn't looked good. Oliver had cardiac arrest and after and hour and some twenty minutes, he was connected to life support. There was not much more to be done. We lost Oliver the next day and he was only 12.
The devastation was immense for everyone. Oliver was a very special kid to many others and especially to us. He was kind, sweet, compassionate, caring and above all, a great friend to my three boys. Recovering from such a loss was not going to be easy.
Summer was over and my mom was still dealing with the effects of a mixture of medical treatments and a devastating disease. I had to manage traveling a week every month to go see her as we live a two-hour plane ride from my parents. I was not used to leaving my three boys at all! I've never been the mom to go away on vacation and leave the kids. It's never been easy for me, but I wanted to see my mom and support my dad and sister with every trip.
By September things were not looking well for my dear mom. The deterioration from the tumor was coming fast and the effects of the numerous medications were too evident. My mom was not the tremendous, energetic, enthusiastic, happy person she used to be. She was failing little by little, yet we were not giving up. We were truly counting on the non-conventional treatments that were our only hope at this time. After all, this disease has no success rate with conventional medicine.
With every weekly trip my body required another week to recover. I would come back to my family completely destroyed. Sad, devastated and physically drained. I was a physical and emotional mess.
In between trips we learned of the passing of another mom from my kids’ school that had been battling cancer for over eight years.
The year was taking a toll on me. My happiness was gone, my positive self had left me, and my talent to help others was non-existent. What was I going to do with myself? I was lost, angry, and hopeless.
November 27th came and I got the call, once again. My mom had died. She was gone and I was lost! My boys had lost the best grandma anyone could ask for and I was devastated.
I hated my life, my experience and the year 2015. I never knew what having a horrible year was until this one. I felt sorry for myself and even embarrassed to be inducted in the dreadful club of living without a parent.
What now? How do I pick myself up again and once again find my happiness. How do I come out of hell? Only my instinct knows and it is clearly telling me what to do.
The only way to come out of hell is by honoring my instinct and doing exactly as it tells me. Be myself, make the effort, meditate every day, write, exercise, find a purpose, help others along the way and make them happy, yes make others happy! Furthermore I learned to never again expect anything because nothing is certain. Life is very mysterious and anything could happen. No one is safe from pain or sorrow so live, focus and experience every single moment. Make than moment count, make it the absolute one and above all, never take it for granted!