In 2019, I learned about survival, compassion, love, community, and most importantly, I learned that life is worth all the pain. In 2019, I had a cancer scare, blood bacterial infection that nearly killed me, I had an open heart surgery and a lung surgery. Yes, it was a year like no other, but I cannot help but smile. Some people see me surviving all that and not being bitter or depressed as a strength, but it is because I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I allowed others to show me compassion. This is not my first open heart surgery, nor my first brush with death. I guess am like a cat with 9 lives. The difference this time around was I had so much I wanted to live for. I had so much riding on staying alive.
In 1978, when I had my first open heart surgery, I had no idea what death meant to those I loved, I was a child. In 1992, when I had my second open heart surgery, I was a college student and I also was struggling with insecurities of life, so I was indifferent about dying, don’t get me wrong, I was scared of the unknown about death, but I was not thinking about my love ones. This time around, not only were the surgeries more complicated and the chances of dying more significant, but for the first time in my life I cared about living.
I was vulnerable to the truth of why death matters. I was vulnerable to the truth that life is not just about the person living it. It is not just about us; it is about the community that has made us who we are. It is that community, that you must fight for, it is the community that makes it worth smiling about. It is that community, that told me, you are going to make it, we are here for you. It is that community that I wanted to live for. For the first time in my life I recognized how much I meant to so many people. Parents, my neighbors, relatives, friends, colleagues, doctors and nurses all assured me that my life was worth smiling about. Their compassion gave me the strength and took away the bitterness.
I am now able to answer the question about not being bitter, nor depressed, it is because my community has said I am worth more than Tetralogy of Fallot. I am worth more than a cancer scare. I am worth more than a blood born bacterial infection. Life is about the lessons we learn, not the pain we have suffered. The pain allows us to be vulnerable, it allows us to cultivate our truth, it allows us to love and be loved. Thank you 2019 for giving me a lesson in vulnerability and human kindness. I am not sure what lessons awaits me in 2020, but I am taking the lesson of vulnerability, compassion, and human kindness into 2020. Happy New Year and Wishing you the Best in 2020!!
About the Author: Uduak (Udie) Osom, was one of those students who entered college searching for her calling. In 1990, she discovered that her passion was in helping others. As the saying goes, “The rest is history.” In 1992, Udie graduated with her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders and science. In 1997, she received her Master’s degree in communication disorders and science from San Jose State University. She has more than 20 years of experience working with children with various disabilities. Udie is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. In 2000, she developed a social skills program that pairs typical developing students with students diagnosed with social cognitive disabilities (Autism, Pragmatic Language, ADD etc). She went on to develop a secondary program “All for 3’s.” Her other specialty is Pediatric Feeding Disorder, emphasis in premature babies and kids. Udie has worked as a consultant for several schools, conducted numerous workshops for schools, written and published articles. Visit Innovative Therapy Services to Learn About Our Programs