by K. Ward
An inspirational essay about overcoming challenges.
| 2019 has been a life-changing year for me. It started with a prayer. My father and I packed our bags and drove to SeaTac airport from Seattle, Washington. We went through security, waited for our flight, and boarded the plane prior to departure. I was so excited. I had my iPod recharged and listened to music as the flight attendant served us snacks and beverages. My father was reading something or other: the newspaper, or a book on religion and spirituality. I was so happy that I would finally be able to visit a place in the country I had never been to before: Houston, Texas. And the reason we went was because I wanted to visit the biggest megachurch in the country, which is the Lakewood Church, home to Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen. I had seen their sermons broadcast on the television, had read a couple of their books, and really wanted to go and experience what it was like to participate in a service that seemed so enthusiastic and positive on television.
And I was not disappointed. The worship music was loud and shook the arena. There were singers dressed like rock musicians and lights and mist. The pastor went up to the pulpit after we sang many contemporary worship songs. He led us in prayer. He preached about God's vindication for us. At the end of his sermon, he broke down in tears when he explained to us how they came to purchase the arena.
That was not the only thing we did in the state of Texas. We went to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. We dined at a cafeteria. We took a rental car to just south of Austin, where we visited with my father's cousin, Sharon. They discussed our family history, the history that my father was researching for his book, the book he is soon getting published. She told us stories of her father, my great uncle Julian, who was in the Air Force, was a Harvard educated medical doctor, worked with NASA, and who died a tragic death in a plane crash at a young age. He used to poke fun at her for being afraid of heights.
My father, Sharon, and I drove together to a Texas barbecue restaurant. There was a country western band playing, donning cowboy hats and cowboy boots. The smoked meat they sold us was just that: huge slabs of cooked meat by itself on wax paper, and slices of bread. I thought I might clog my arteries with so much meat, but I couldn't possibly pass up the opportunity to experience real Texas.
At the airport, I bought a souvenir, which was a snow globe with an astronaut waving an American flag on top of the moon, with the words, "Houston, Texas," written on the bottom. I offered it to my father, because I knew how much he loved his uncle Julian, but he told me to keep it.
After we flew back to Washington State, we took the light rail up to the university station, where my mother picked us up.
The next challenge of the year was that my mother needed invasive surgery. She was getting shoulder replacement surgery for her pain. Surgery is, of course, the last resort for chronic pain, and there was no guarantee it would eliminate it. But she was so brave. The morning of the surgery, I could sense how frightened she was. I was praying for her at home. But the doctors told us it was a success. And my father told me, "The incision looked so straight." We visited her in the hospital, brought flowers. Everyone in my household signed a card and sent it. At the same time, someone died in the family. The man across the street died. My roommate's sister's boyfriend died of a Heroin overdose. People in our lives were dying, and my mother had to go through a little bit of pain. There was a memorial service in the old man's house the day of my mother's surgery.
And then something else dramatic happened. After my mother got safely home to their house, three snowstorms blew in through the Puget Sound area in the Pacific Northwest. The first one was seven inches of snow. The next one was four. The next one was seven. We had a foot and a half of snow piled up everywhere. My household and I were trapped in our house for one week, but thankfully, we had plenty of supplies, and a fireplace to cook food if the power were to go out.
Around Valentine's Day, I finally got out of the house, bought some Love Poems, the flower, for our dining room table. My roommate's little girl was wide-eyed about the snow and the flowers. Her daddy decided to rent a snow plow and plow our dead end. He took her for a ride, and the delight on her face was so precious. She will always remember that day and love her mommy and her daddy.
Life went back to normal for a long time. I wore a lucky, green, four-leaf clover t-shirt on St. Patrick's Day. My mother was still recovering from her pain. We celebrated Easter. Lily, the little girl, went on an Easter egg hunt her parents had prepared for her. I had a big birthday celebration. We had McDonald's and a cake. The little girl got a Happy Meal. I received gorgeous gifts, an emerald cut, blue topaz necklace, matching earrings, and cards. Blue topaz is not really my birthstone, but it was what I wanted. There were balloons, and I put together party favors. We all had the time of our lives.
The next events of the year were a little bit difficult. I needed an MRI for breast cancer screening. Because I have a large amount of breast cancer in my family, I started getting mammograms last year, at forty. But because I have dense breasts, which happens to the younger patients, my oncologist recommended getting an MRI. But I am so overweight that I barely fit into the tunnel, and I had trouble keeping my breathing even. The MRI came out fuzzy because I moved. So did the second one. So, we're just going to do mammograms from now on. Last year, I received genetic counseling and took a genetic blood test, but apparently I had none of the genetic mutations they screened for. And my tests came out clean this year.
I also needed to go to the eye doctor and get new glasses. After my six-month dentist check-up, I needed to get a crown and a filling. I needed to do jury duty in June. It was like I was swimming laps at the Olympics I was doing so many appointments and running so many errands. On July Fourth, we celebrated freedom and independence with fireworks, and they were so lovely to see, bursting in the air, creating pretty colors dancing across the sky.
And that was not all. My brother and sister-in-law are now foster parents. They hope to adopt the three children in addition to their five natural children. My father heard word that his book is being published around Father's Day. Now, I am going back to college for one more course, all expenses paid for by my generous parents. And then I will have graduated with a degree, which I never did before. It will be quite a challenge, but I am sure I can do it.
This entire year as been a challenge. This, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, has been one big dare. And yet we are managing to do it. The first moon landing was a success, and I think this year will be a complete success for us, too. My mother is almost completely recovered from her pain, she might need to get another surgery in another part of her body, but she is doing well, at almost seventy-two years old. We were able to calm down from our grief. The moon landing, and what it means, is the theme of my year, and maybe I am not alone. With some breaks, like going to see movies, like Apollo 11, and dining at restaurants, I am getting a lot done. We are all advancing as a human race. At some point, we might even go to Mars.
My prayer, at the beginning of the year, was about making it through the year and beyond. I had a lot of worries. I needed God to calm me down. I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I was buckling under the pressure. But it is all working out. It took a lot, and I mean, a lot of work, including my normal commuting and work routine, but I am actually rising to the challenge. I know it was God who was helping me all along the way. I learned, well, was reminded, anyway, that there is nothing to fear with faith. And that's exactly what carried me. God and faith.