Sad Week

For quite some time now, I’ve felt as though each passing day has been worse than the day preceding it. That sad feeling permeates my inner core, resulting in a stagnation of activity and an expectation of failure. This week has been especially taxing on my spirits.

First off, I went to the doctor to have an “ulcer” on my lower lip excised. The procedure was more invasive than I thought it would be. It required two stitches and left me with a stigma reminiscent of my acne-problematic puberty phase years ago. I felt so self-conscious that I wore a surgical mask to work that day. It wasn’t alarming to those who saw me, as wearing a mask is customary here in Taiwan when one has a cold. Everyone just thought I had a cold. I ended up telling the students I teach about it in the following days because I didn’t want to wear the mask anymore while the wound healed. They were all very understanding and empathetic to my plight, as I awaited the test results of the biopsy.

Second, I have had several restless nights, due to a few reasons. Chief among those reasons is the anxiety I feel about waiting for the test results of my biopsy. I certainly hope it comes out benign, but I can’t help wondering what the cause of my problem was. A cold sore doesn’t last two months, as that one did. It has to have been caused by something else. Another reason I haven’t been able to sleep at night is that I’ve been drinking Coca-Cola this week. After having gone for the better part of six months without drinking hardly any of the soda, I drank some every day this week. It has been making me stay up late at night and unable to get a good night’s rest. Before, when I was drinking it daily, it didn’t have that effect on me. I guess enough time had passed to where it was out of my system and affecting me more intensely.

Third, I ran over a dog two days ago. That morning, I decided to drive my car to work, instead of my scooter, because I thought it might rain. When I arrived at the school, there were hundreds of students milling about. I drove slowly toward the parking lot, through the throngs of teenagers. Several of them were looking at a cute little puppy dog on the pavement. I saw the dog and proceeded to make a wide arc around it, inching my car forward through the students. All of a sudden, my car went up and back down, and I heard the squeal of a dog. Initially, I thought it was another dog that I hadn’t seen, as several of the students screamed out in terror. I stopped, opened up my door, and saw the puppy I had spotted previously crawl out from beneath my car to the side. I knew then what had happened. He had run under the wheel of my car. He was bleeding from his mouth, and I knew his time was up. Another teacher took him to the vet, as I had a class to attend (and my boss ordered me to go to the class). The puppy was dead upon arrival at the vet. It was very traumatic for me, as I love dogs.

I cannot help but wonder why none of those students that were looking at the puppy tried to do anything to prevent the accident. It was as if they were attending a movie and not able to interact with what they were witnessing. Anyone of them could have shouted something out, as I was clearly watching them, or even grabbed the puppy before he ran under my car, as I was driving at a snail’s pace. However, they did nothing except shrieked at the sight of the puppy going under my car wheel. I’m still upset at that incident, wondering how I could have averted it. The only thing I can think of is if I had stopped my car completely when I saw the puppy, gotten out, and moved it far away from where cars were driving. But, who does that!? I take full responsibility for the poor dog’s death. Also, I need to pay the teacher back who paid the vet ($1500NT). I will do that tomorrow when I see her.

Four, my mother wrote me today and said my aunt Helen died this morning, after having had open-heart surgery a few weeks ago. Aunt Helen had gotten up about 6:30 a.m. this morning and walked to the bathroom. Then, she went back to bed. Her daughter, Mary Ann, had been staying with her throughout the night. Later, Mary Ann’s daughter came and stayed with her in the morning. When she checked on Aunt Helen, about 8:00 a.m., she was lying on the bed with her eyes open and fluid coming out of her mouth. The paramedics were called immediately. Her heart had stopped beating, but they got it going again. She was rushed to the hospital. The doctors said she had fluid in her lungs, and blood clots. They asked the family if Helen had a “living will” where she signified that she did not want any heroic efforts done to save her if she was in this kind of situation. She did have this, and so it was determined that they would let her pass away. At 84 years old, she lived a long and gratifying life. Now, she will be reunited with Ma and Pa, her parents, and whoever else is with them.

When I was a little boy, Aunt Helen took care of me when my parents needed a babysitter. I have nothing but fond memories of her. She gave the most genuine heartfelt loving hugs of any person I’ve ever met. Her life was full of challenges. Even before I was born, Helen was divorced from the man who fathered her five children. Essentially, Helen raised them alone. Obviously, she did a fantastic job, because they all turned out to be tremendous individuals. Even though they are older than me, I remember playing with Mark and Charlie when I was young. I have memories of playing in their bedroom, with big boxing gloves. Helen made sure they played safe, and that they always maintained good imaginations. When I decided to paint my boys’ room with vibrant colors, I did so because of how Helen had decorated her boys’ room with the same. On their wall were two large bright pink footprints. Multi-colored pillows and bedspreads were throughout. Helen believed in her children, and I think that had a lot to do with how great they turned out to be.

Helen spent many years teaching English to international students, much like I am doing now. Her success in that career has given me hope through my most trying times. When I visited America last year, Helen told me that what I am doing is a wonderful thing. I needed someone to tell me that, and she came through. I will always love my aunt, Helen. She is one-of-a-kind and a genuine angel, through and through.

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