Friday, March 27, 2009

I'm finally home

After being in the hospital for more than two weeks, I’m finally home. I can’t believe how much I miss the house, the food, my dog, and even small things like my desk and bed. It’s good to be home. Good thing I never pack heavy. Because by the time I got home, boy, was I out of it and had no intentions of cleaning up what I brought with me to the hospital.

Ever since I was a kid, I knew how to pack and I knew how to pack well. With us moving all the time, I had to learn quickly what we need and what we can carry compare to what I want and what I want to carry. And after I got hurt, with the many hospital and rehab stays, I’ve learned to pack even lighter. Meaning, pack only the essentials. So, early this morning, I got back in my chair (with no help or anyone watching over me, awesome, I’m starting to go back to my old self) and started packing.

Like I said, I packed light. All I had was some toiletries, clothes, my laptop, a couple get-well cards from my friends, and of course, homework. I think I was gone packing hours before Mom said she was going to pick me up, around her lunchtime. So I just sat in my chair, talked to a friend online, reviewed my notes for the upcoming tests, revised my essays and sat waiting, extremely anxious just to get the hell out of the hospital.

Around 1030 this morning, I finally heard what I was waiting for. My nurse came to the door, knocked and asked, “You ready to leave? You know I’m going to miss you.” And with a smile, I turned my chair around was going to say “Ya sure you do.” But I stopped. Someone I didn’t expect was standing right beside the nurse. I didn’t even know, I had no clue.

Dad is home.

Boy if you could see the look on my face, I was surprised and extremely shocked. Dad’s home, wow….Dad’s home.

And for the month he was gone, I wondered where he was. I wondered how he was, what he was doing, how he was doing and so much more. I even wondered if he knew what happened to me and why I had to got this most recent surgery. But when I saw Dad standing at the door of my room, I didn’t care about any of it, he was home and that is the best thing of all.

But whenever Dad comes home from a deployment, there was always an extreme awkwardness between him and me. Someone said it was normal, for how many months he might be gone, not knowing when he will be home, it’s going to be awkward. I try to make the best of the situation and create less of a space between us by filling him in on what has been happening at school, at home, and everything in between. While most of the time I’d start the conversation, I didn’t this time. This time, he did.

“Son, I’m only home for 36 hours, let’s make the best of it.”

And with that said, I didn’t know whether I should fill him in or not. 36 hours only meant this was just a short time to make the best of everything. 36 hours only meant that he was going to leave soon and just another chance for me to wonder when he’ll be home next. So I thought hard about it…whether to fill him in or not. And I had to say something.

“Yes, sir.” I answered him, “I sure will.”

During the short ride from the hospital to Mom’s office, I filled Dad in best I could. I told Dad what was happening at school, what is going to happen soon (i.e prom, AP tests, and such) and what my college plans are. I even had the chance to fill him in on the March Madness he missed. (Months ago Dad and I made a bet. Bet was, if Duke moves onto Final Four this year, I would get Dad’s pay for the month. If they don’t, I was to get at least 3.8 GPA on my second semester report card. Guess Dad knew it all along because Duke lost to Villanova just last night) When he heard that, Dad chuckled and said, “I told you, now remember our deal.” I just nodded, bet was a bet.

There were a few seconds of silence then Dad asked.

“What happened when your mother was on her business trip?”

My mouth glued shut and I felt as if my heart was in my throat. I had planned to tell Dad when he comes home for good, not for 36 hours.

“Son, what happened when your mother was on her business trip?” He asked again then continued. “You know I am going to read about it, hear about it from the MPs and other people anyways, so why not just tell me now. What happened, son?”

I still didn’t know what to answer. I did nothing wrong when Mom left for her business trip a month ago. I didn’t but someone else did, a group of someone else. And right there and then I didn’t want to remember what happened but mostly, I didn’t want to trouble Dad. 36 hours isn’t very long and I didn’t want to trouble him with what happened.

“Son, I am asking you a question.”

So I told him. I told him the incident and about the surgery. I told him everything and left nothing out. I desperately tried to reassure Dad that I was all right and that surgery was over, bed rest was over and everything can go back to like it was before. I am fine now but I guess Dad had something else in mind, a lawsuit.

“I will be talking to your Mom about this.”

This is not how I want Dad to spend his 36 hours home. So I finally said, “Dad, don’t, it’s over now. Just forget it, I’m fine. I haven’t miss anything at school, I’ll do more PT. Dad, you’re home for 36 hours, I don’t want you to leave thinking about this, you don’t need to be thinking of this when you’re gone. Plus…”

I still cannot believe I said that. What happened to me? What happened the me that did not care about anything before? Where did that Matt go? Are those words really coming out of my mouth?

“Plus, it’d be easier on Mom, with you gone and everything. She doesn't need the extra stress.”

I think I surprised Dad also because for a moment, he was lost for words. Then finally, he asked me if I was feeling good enough to go out for lunch or maybe we should just head home. I reassured him I was fine and he told me just before he went to grab mom.

“I will talk to your Mom about this but thank you for your input.”

Now I’m hoping he will actually listen to me this time.

After seeing how surprised Mom was, I don’t think she had any appetite to eat lunch. Still, Dad brought us out to a quick meal of KFC (since Mom had to go back to work). We ate, talked, and for that short lunch period, our family was a family again and it felt amazing. But work is work so we dropped Mom off soon after. Since it is Friday, we all agreed to Family Friday Movie night. But that gave Dad and me more than seven hours to spend together. And we did just that.

After a nice dinner from this sushi place, we went home, sat down, watched a movie. I knew Dad didn’t had a lot of time. I just excused myself from the movie and went back in my room so my parents could have some alone time. They need it and they deserve it.

When you’ve been gone for that long and haven’t slept in your own bed for days. Even the floor in your room can look extremely comfortable. I unpacked few of my few things, got online and told my friends I was home and I’d be back to school on Monday and started writing this. It was an extremely good Friday. Long, but an amazingly good day today, I got out of the hospital and got an awesome surprise.

Dad’s going to be home for awhile, not for good but at least he’s home.
Right now it is 2305 on Friday night, that means Dad’s got just less than 24 hour till he has to go.

I don’t even know why I count the hours. Maybe that way time will slow down, not only for me but for my parents also.

Welcome Home Dad.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

7 Tips for Surving the Recession Woes!

So I got reading a blog by a good person named Davey. It gives some amazing tips on life so here's what he got to say about the recession and his tips...

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I once read a book called “Don’t sweat the small stuff… and it’s all small stuff.” Look at the situations in your life through a larger lens. In the big scheme of your life, the world or the universe, our so called problems tend to dissipate.
2. View those so-called problems as opportunities. As the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. Make yourself open to all possibilities - the door that opens may lead down an unfamiliar path.
3. Breathe. Things are always better when you take a few deep breaths.

4. Remember that happiness is the ultimate currency - not money. Use the recession to refocus on what really matters. We try to use money (unsuccessfully) to reach happiness. Money temporarily can increase happiness, but it’s a temporary high. To truly increase your base levels of happiness, spend time serving others and following your passions.
5. Be grateful. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, take a few minutes to focus on what you do have. Your life is very rich.
6. Help others. Resist the urge to go into “survivor mode.” Reach out to others and help your fellow mankind. Whatever energy you put out to the world will return to you in like form.

7. Embrace the journey. Don’t resist the flow of life. Enjoy the ride - the ups and downs - this is a great adventure.

This guys sounds pretty awesome, check out his blog here:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Military Brat

I wrote this on my 18th birthday

You know...I never knew I was a military brat. Not until the day I finally knew why we were moving all the time, why Mom would go crazy just to make sure our move can go pretty well. My initial thought was, "This is cool...we get to go on a long trip and see different things." And as I grew older, I grew tired of moving. I wasn't fund of making new friends, new relationships with people on post, new teachers and more. I still remember making an offer to my parents about staying by myself when I was just 8 years old. Obviously, it didn't work.

I can still remember the first time I understood what Dad was telling me when he was about to leave for a deployment. "You got to be good now," he told me "I'm not home so you got to make sure you take care of Mom. You're the man of the house now. Think you can do the job?" And how silly of me, stood there at attention with a serious look on my face. "Yes, sir." And he nodded, gave me and Mom a hug and went off. He came back earlier than he said he would that deployment, I didn’t know why just knew we were finally allowed to go see him at the hospital. I never asked what happened or why Dad’s in the hospital I just did what I was told. When a stranger came into Dad's room and presented him with a medal. I didn't question what it was. I simply did what I was told, to behave when Dad's got company over. I didn't know then but I sure do now.

By now, I pretty much understand what Dad is doing and what being a brat is about. Mom found ways to sit me down and discuss what needs to be done around the house and allow me to finish some of Dad’s work when he’s deployed.

By the time I got to high school, things changed. With football, homework, and chores I thought I couldn't take it all being the man of the house while Dad's gone. But after hearing Mom crying in the bathroom made me realize even when we're not willing or not ready to do something, it must be done. I did what I can after that, helping with the many chores around the house. I wanted to do it all. But plans change, I got hurt. When Dad got home, I was out of the hospital for a couple weeks. I was just getting used to the real world again when he told me, "Son...being the man of the house doesn't at all times require physical strength and ability. Most of the time, it's up here, in your head that counts the most. You're still the man of the house and I trust that you won't let me down. I'm proud of you son."

So being in a family of three was something I got used to long ago. Missing Dad on holidays, birthdays, family movie nights was just another norm of being a brat. But this was the first time I had so much thought running through my head as we drove home after dropping Dad off. Mom said I'm finally an adult and starting to understand more of what it really means to be part of the “military family”.

With Dad deployed more often and most of the time, not sure where. I only come to understand that I'm carrying the military brat title. Being myself everyday and doing what I can for my parents. (Especially my Mom when Dad’s deployed) Guess that’s why I’ve decided to write. To leave my thoughts on paper so I can vent, think, and hopefully be better at being myself, being a son, and more.

Second Chance

I told you I love football right? Well I love football. Did I mention I love football? Really though, I've heard people say love kills...I didn't think it was real. I've been playing football ever since I can remember. Playing in the yard, on the street and was so eager when I was finally old enough to be on an actual team. Time went by fast, all I dreamed about was football. Next thing I know, I was graduation 8th grade and going to high school.

I got hurt during my freshman year and during the most inconvenient time. Like I said before, a player tackled, my head got in the way, and snap. Just like that, that simple, or quick I meant. By the time I woke up, everyone was quiet, people were asking me questions and seeing the look on all those people faces, it's something I won't forget. And I got so worried about the game I wasn't even worried about myself. I got put on the stretcher and asked the coach. "Was that in, coach, did I made it in?" He just nodded without a word. And I got so excited before hand, though Dad was deployed he was on his leave. It was the best timing in the world. Thought Dad can watch me play and see what I've got. But guess the saying "expect the unexpected" is right. Dad's leave to see me play turned out to be watching me run for the last time.

Though Dad wanted to stay longer he was only there to make sure he hears what the doctors had to say, saw me moved out of ICU, and went through some medical work with Mom before he had to take off again. While laying in bed with a metal neck brace, unable to move any part of your body is hard enough. What's harder is watching Mom sitting late into the night tending to my every needs, working from the hospital, trying to go through piles of insurance jumbos and somehow she still found time to read everything she can on Spinal Cord Injury.

I tried my best to hide my shame and depression, though somehow, I had a feeling Mom knew. I wished I never got hurt, why me, out of anyone, why me. And not only that because of me, Mom had more burdens to carry. Dad have more things he have to worry about on the rest of his deployment. I took time off from school to finish up rehab. The time off gave me time to think, to re-live what happened, and eventually, kick (no pun intended) myself out of depression with the help of many doctors, nurses, and both occupational and physical therapists.

Somehow...slowly though not yet completely, I'm starting to know what I have to do with the hand I was dealt. I still get depressed, I still cry (though sometimes not wanting to admit it), and I still wish for things. But I'm better now, I'm alive, got myself a nice set of wheels, and I'm alive.