Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Authors (and Others). Writing that Stirs the Heart

That's Bobby and me at her graduation in the lower right photo.
While this post has nothing to do with the writing process, per se, it is an example of writing from the heart to stir the hearts of others.

This is a very long post. If it wasn't THIS post, I'd break it into at least two blogs. I hope you read it all and understand my decision not to break its flow.

I got a Facebook message on this day from My Favorite Student. I know I’ve written on that topic before. Again, I apologize if this offends any of my former students. I was blessed by you all.
Okay, maybe not ALL, but over 98%.
·      Baharak Tavafifard—AKA Bobby—was in the first-period section of the very first class—Global Science—that  I taught at Great Oak High School in August of 2004. She sat in the front row, right in front of my “teaching station.” She was not shy. She was a breath of fresh air every day with her positive outlook and her willingness to do what it took to be successful.
Bobby as a freshman working on a science lab in my class.
  • She took AP Biology from me as a sophomore. Same descriptors apply, except that she didn’t sit in the front row.
  • During the last two years she attended GOHS, she was an irregular visitor at lunch, before or after school.
  • I wrote a blog—Pomp and Circumstance—on my feelings about high school graduation ceremonies. To further support my “Favorite Student” designation for Bobby, I volunteered to be the teacher/row-leader for her row at her graduation.
  • She went to UCSD. I’d written her a letter of recommendation.
  • We meet at least once each quarter for coffee and/or a walk.
  • She enrolled in a Ph.D. program at La Verne. I’d written her a letter of recommendation.
  • We met a couple of times between her starting the Ph. D. program and what follows.
  • In addition, she and I have messaged often through Facebook and text messaged from time to time.
  • Unless this font is used, Bobby wrote every word that follows this sentence. I formatted and emphasized parts. She has approved what you’re seeing and reading.

It started like this . . .

Feb 12, 2017
I was hit by a truck Sunday (1/29) morning. I was helicoptered into LAC+USC medical center. I was in and out of consciousness since Sunday. The good news is that while I have several fractures, I only have had one "major" surgery. I had surgery this past Thursday and it was successful thankfully. I got discharged Monday and am home now with my mom who is taking care of me. I started physical rehabilitation a few days ago- the doctors say that it will take me at most 3 months to be able to fully walk again etc. (i.e. get back to being fully normal). I am very thankful, I will be as good as new in some time. I am very lucky to be alive.
Please do not worry about me. I will be okay thankfully- someone was watching out for me 
I just wanted to let all you know what was going on. I would have told you earlier it took me a while to feel relatively stable..
Also if you want to reach out email me or FB me. Sadly, my phone needs to be replaced as it was damaged in the accident. I'll text you when I get a new phone.

I hope you are doing well and taking care of yourself

So, this wonderful young woman, a former student of mine, is hoping I’m doing well and taking care of myself IMMEDIATELY AFTER SHE’S DISCHARGED FROM THE HOSPITAL.
Please read on. Her journey is an incredible one.

May 9, 2017
Today is one of those days where I woke up in appreciation of the beauty and miracle of life. I feel lucky to be alive and I feel strong. At my core, I feel a calm and I feel at peace.
So this is a fair warning. This is an emotional post. It’s a long post, but I felt the need to share because I know that we all struggle at some point in this life, in our own way. I want to illuminate that even in the midst of struggle, there is light. Many times beauty emerges, is born, and is found when we are engulfed in pain, heartbroken, and drowning in darkness.
This post is part of true healing.
This is part of my healing.
This year has been challenging to say the least. Within the sphere of my personal life, I have been challenged in numerous ways. There were difficult decisions I had to make and I invested a lot of hard work into paving and building pathways for achieving dreams I hope to attain and make true one day.
However, the most challenging part of this year was encountering events that were simply out of my control. Life can throw so much your way. In the end, only you can choose how you want to weather the storm and only you can decide what meaning to extract from the chaos.

1/29/17 - I experienced a traumatic event that changed my life.
Events that followed: 
I wake up disoriented in the hospital 
Doctors are asking a lot of questions 
I don’t why I’m here 
I slowly piece together a story.
It goes something like this.
I got rear ended on the freeway, possibly.
At some point, I hit a wall and/or a poll, possibly
I was in a car accident. I was helicoptered in. 
A police officer asks questions I can’t answer.
I don’t know what happened. I don’t remember because I lost consciousness. He leaves. 
I keep thinking I can get up. I want to get up. But they tell me I can’t. 
We’re waiting to see if there is head trauma 
CT scan. The doctors and nurses seem concerned. 
One doctor speaks Farsi to me. It makes me feel better.
I'm in pain. More pain that I have ever been in. 
The doctors ask who I want to call 
I don’t want to call anyone I want to go home, but I call my brother 
I don’t want to tell my mom. She will get too worried. 
Maybe it’s not that bad I think
They don’t know if I need surgery . . .
They need to determine if I have internal bleeding first 
No water for 48 hours because you can’t drink water if you need surgery.

I’m so thirsty

My mom comes.
Someone called her.
She’s inconsolable 
She holds my hand.

I’ve always liked my mom's perfume.

X-rays .
They do so many X-rays. 

But I can’t move I’m in so much pain. 

A nurse holds my hand.
He sings to me so that I don’t think about the pain.
He’s so nice. 

I can’t stop crying.
I hate the X-rays and the cold room. 
The nurse keeps holding my hand—his voice is beautiful. 

The doctors say I have this fracture,
that fracture,
another fracture 

I think how can your body have so many broken bones and fractures?
Hours pass 
My lung collapses 
It’s hard to breathe 
I start apologizing to my body. 

The doctors say I need surgery.
It’s worse than they thought 

My mom can’t stop crying.
My brother is crying

I act strong, reassure her and my brother 
But I’m scared. 

I take 2 Norcos every 4 hours.
They tell me to rate my pain.
How do you rate it?
My pain is relative to what? 
More Norocos.
I don’t like how they make me feel.

There is too much noise in the hospital.
Can everyone leave? So that it can be quiet . 
I’m tired but I can’t sleep.
I envision sitting in a garden.
It’s a quiet green beautiful garden filled with flowers. 

There is so much I want to do with my life.
So much I haven’t done.
What if I don’t get a chance to?

I start praying 

I’m wheeled in for surgery 
My brother can’t watch. 
I tell him I love him.
I tell my mom I love her. 
At some point, I am wheeled in alone

I know it will be okay.
Because even if it is not. I will be with God.
So it will be okay. 

The doctor tells me the potential compilations of surgery.
“There is always a 1 percent chance you won’t wake up.” 
I think, is this necessary to tell me?
But I listen. 
Everyone keeps telling me that I am the most calm patient they have had.
They tell me they wish it was always this easy with patients. 

I am calm.
I don’t know why.
But I’m calm.

Sign the form.
It’s procedure.
We talk about Jamaica, the beaches, before the anesthesia 
I dream of my mom.
She’s beautiful. 

Surgery is successful 
I wake up. Everyone is surrounding me. I want to be alone. 
It’s blurry. 
But there is still so much pain
Then the burning nerve pain starts that night 
My leg starts swelling 
It’s one of the side effects of surgery.
“Remember the form you signed?” The doctor asks me 

I’m angry.
I’m sad.
I’m scared.

The pain in my leg gets worse.
So bad I can’t sleep at night. 
I keep having dreams of hitting a wall. of a truck hitting me.
And I can’t stop it 

10 days in the room.
Feels like a cage.
Then I’m discharged. 

But I have to take a leave of absence from the semester.
I’m pulled from my rotation at the hospital.
But I miss my doctoral cohort.
This is my last semester with them.
This would have been my last semester with all of them.
I can’t go back to my “normal life” for some time.

In shock.
I cry 
How long?
“It’s hard to say,” they tell me.
“It depends,” they tell me. 
The doctors say I am in a wheelchair for at least 2 months.
At least. 
2 months? 60 days. 
“It could be even longer,” they tell me.

Then I sit because I have no choice.
I write.
I read.
I cry.
I laugh.
and then I cry because I’m angry.
and then I laugh because I’m tired of crying. 

My tears fill the depth of the Ocean. 
I cry when no one sees me
Flowers .
 Teddy Bears.
Love. Love. Love.
So much undeniable pure Love. 
I feel blessed with all the love. 
I am loved.

Then one day, it's done. 
PT starts.
I am excited.
But there are setbacks.
Always setbacks.
I hate exercising.
But that’s the only way you get better. 
PT session 1 . . .
 PT session 20.
PT sessions continue.
I lose count.

My physical therapist is so nice but tough. 
“Keep being strong,” she tells me
“You’re going to beat this,” she tells me
I wonder if I will.
But I don’t give up.

And then
3 months
5 days
6 hours later
I do.
I am victorious.

And then today, I got clearance to drive again. And with that I got official clearance to wear heels again (albeit once in a while), something I was not sure I would ever be able to do because of my lower back fracture.
For those that know me, they know that this is actually a significant victory for me.
After all of this, what I have learned, how I have chose to perceive this unexpected occurrence is that this accident was a way for the universe to deliver a message to me. Perhaps a message I needed two months in a wheelchair to understand, to grasp. From what I have gathered and grasped this was the message:
  1. Be kind to yourself always.
  2. Slow down. When you go too fast, you miss the beauty.
  3. Ask for help if you need it. It’s okay. Those that truly care will be right there to help you when you need it the most.
  4. You only have one life, and it can be taken away at any moment, so LIVE it. 
  5. Be humble and stay grounded because very little in life is in your control. Accept that reality. 
  6. Time is not guaranteed. So stop wasting time with things/situations that don’t make you happy. Stop making a bucket list and ACT on the bucket list.
  7. Go for your dreams. You lose so much more by not going for them.
  8. Don’t live in fear. Fear only holds you back from achieving your dreams.
  9. Appreciate everything. Take nothing for granted. For example, value your ability to have independence.
  10. Be hopeful always and believe in all possibilities. Nothing is unrealistic. Work for whatever you truly desire. There is a chance you may attain it. Be hopeful that you can. Never give up. 
  11. Nothing matters more than love. Pure unconditional love comes in many forms. So be pure love within this world.

The physical toll was difficult, but the psychological one is always harder. I generally am an optimistic person and I tend to choose to be positive. But there were many, many moments I felt defeated.

So with that said, I want to thank my incredible family, friends, mentors and loved ones who were there through it all. The many truly caring, humble, giving people in my life. There are simply way too many individuals to name, but you know who you are.

I do not know how I got so lucky to have such incredible and wonderful people around me. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • Thank you to those who sent and delivered numerous bouquets of flowers, countless boxes of chocolates, and made delicious homemade meals.
  • I want to say thank you to my loved ones that sent books so I could read and be distracted from my condition, thank you to those that checked in with me daily, and thank you to those that sent me jokes and made random conversation with me so that I could forget about the struggles.
  • I want to thank friends and family that just sat there with me in silence, that held my hand and cried with me, and those that laughed with me after the crying became unbearable.
  • I also want to thank the individuals who voiced that they were uncomfortable with hospitals and grief and trauma and asked what I needed, because they felt too awkward and didn’t know what the “right” thing to say was. Ironically, that WAS the right thing to say to me.
  • Thank you to those that were there just because they wanted to be there.
  • Thank you to all those that were true.
  • Thank you to my support, because without you I would have not been victorious.

I wanted to give a special shout out to my brother Amir Tavafifard who has been there every step of the way. He was the first person I called after the accident, has been my personal chauffeur in these months I couldn’t drive, and has always managed to make me laugh sometimes in the midst of tears. I love you bro. I thank God you are in my life.

Lastly, the most important person I want to thank is my beautiful mother Simin Sabooni. After the accident, she took care of my every need (financial, physical, emotional) and never left my side. My sadness was her sadness and my joy in moments of progress was hers.

We all know that mother’s day is coming up but my mother deserves a mother’s day every day. I am so, so sorry mom I worried you and I promise that I will do my best to avoid such situations in the future. I have no idea what I did in the past life to deserve a mother like you. I know there are many wonderful mothers out there, but I swear Simin Sabooni deserves a trophy. There is not one mother I know that holds a candle to mine. You are the embodiment of class, elegance, grace and strength and if I become half the woman you are today in the future, I will truly be proud of myself. I am so honored to call you my maman. Even if I could give you the world, it wouldn’t come close to repaying you for all that you have done for me in this time. I love you more than you will ever know. Thank you for everything you continue to do. Most importantly thank you for showing me the meaning of unconditional love.

In conclusion, to the universe that sent me this beautiful gift and life lesson (arguably the most valuable lesson of my life) at the young age of 26, I now have a message for you. 

 I am sending you this message, oh universe.

This girl is back.
This girl won’t stop.
This girl can overcome any obstacle you throw her way-
 you just watch her.
This girl just got started,
it’s not her time to go yet.
This girl is stronger than ever before.

And if you thought this girl was feisty BEFORE the accident, you should meet her now

Fear Looks.
Faith Leaps.
Courage is Light.

I have let go of Fear.
I choose Faith.
 I choose Courage.

Most importantly, I choose to fight on.

May we always choose to dream on and fight on.

Bobby's post ends here.

If you can’t understand why I posted this on my blog, let me know.I’d like to pray with you.
Bobby Today. This was her Facebook profile picture on July 3, 2017.

Thank you, Bobby, for being my friend.


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