Sunday, September 14, 2008

Why Not for Man?


Where we live, on the Eastern shore of Maryland, the gentle waters run in and out like fingers slimming at the tips. They curl into the smaller creeks and coves like tender palms.

The Canada geese know this place, as do the white swans and the ducks who ride an inch above the waves of Chesapeake Bay as they skim their way into harbor. In the autumn, by the thousands, they come home for the winter. The swans move toward the shores in a stately glide, their tall heads proud and unafraid. They lower their long necks deep into the water, where their strong beaks dig through the river bottoms for food. And there is, between the arrogant swans and the prolific geese, an indifference, almost a disdain.

Once or twice each year, snow and sleet move into the area. When this happens, if the river is at its narrowest, or the creek shallow, there is a freeze which hardens the water to ice.

It was on such a ! morning near Oxford, Maryland, that a friend of mine set the breakfast table beside the huge window, which overlooked the Tred Avon River. Across the river, beyond the dock, the snow laced the rim of the shore in white. For a moment she stood quietly, looking at what the night's storm had painted. Suddenly she leaned forward and peered close to the frosted window.

"It really is," she cried out loud, "there is a goose out there."

She reached to the bookcase and pulled out a pair of binoculars. Into their sights came the figure of a large Canada goose, very still, its wings folded tight to its sides, its feet frozen to the ice.

Then from the dark skies, she saw a line of swans. They moved in their own singular formation, graceful, intrepid, and free. They crossed from the west of the broad creek high above the house, moving steadily to the east.

As my friend watched, the leader swung to the right, then the white string of birds became a white circle. It floated from the top of the sky downward. At last, as easy as feathers coming to earth, the circle landed on the ice. My friend was on her feet now, with one unbelieving hand against her mouth. As the swans surrounded the frozen goose, she feared what life he still had might be pecked out by those great swan bills.

Instead, amazingly instead, those bills began to work on the ice. The long necks were lifted and curved down, again and again. It went on for a long time. At last, the goose was rimmed by a narrow margin of ice instead of the entire creek. The swans rose again, following the leader, and hovered in that circle, awaiting the results of their labors.

The goose's head lifted. Its body pulled. Then the goose was free and standing on the ice. He was moving his big webbed feet slowly. And the swans stood in the air watching. Then, as if he had cried, "I cannot fly," four of the swans came down around him. Their powerful beaks scraped the goose's wings from top to bottom, scuttled under its wings and rode up its body, chipping off and melting the ice held in the feathers. Slowly, as if testing, the goose spread its wings as far as they would go, brought them together, accordion-like, and spread again.

When at last the wings reached their fullest, the four swans took off and joined the hovering group. They resumed their eastward journey, in perfect formation, to their secret destination.

Behind them, rising with incredible speed and joy, the goose moved into the sky. He followed them, flapping double time, until he caught up, until he joined the last end of the line, like a small child at the end of a crack-the-whip of older boys.

My friend watched them until they disappeared over the tips of the farthest trees. Only then, in the dusk, which was suddenly deep, did she realize that tears were running down her cheeks and had been — for how long she didn't know.

This is a true story. It happened. I do not try to interpret it. I just think of it in the bad moments, and from it comes only one hopeful question: "If so for birds, why not for man?

Who Packed Your Parachute


Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.

"I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!" Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."

Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor." Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes.

What My Father Left Behind


At 13 years of age, my parents and I visited an ophthalmologist. As I sat in the examining chair, my face firmly on the chin rest and pupils dilated, the doctor looked into my eyes, shining a bright light.

"She did inherit it," he said with coldness. "You need to be prepared. There is no cure for this retinal disease."

My father carried the Retinitis Pigmentosa gene causing a deterioration of the retina which, in most cases, results in blindness. Although my brother's retinas seemed to be fine, I'd inherited the gene.

Fifteen years after my initial diagnosis, my father began to lose his eyesight and so did I. He was 55 years old, but I was only 28. In a matter of two years, we had both lost our sight completely.

I focused on the effects of my own darkness. My world crumbled as the black curtain fell, destroying the dreams my husband and I had for us and for our three little boys. But when I turned to God for hope and strength, He responded by opening my eyes to a new revelation.

My father had given me not just the RP gene, but the example of determination and tenacity as well. We were all living in Bolivia in 1964 when he defied the family's opposition to move to America. He and Mom worked tirelessly to satisfy the requirements imposed by the U.S. Immigration Department to enter the country and establish residency.

Once in the states, he overcame humiliation, intense loneliness, helplessness and uncertainty. He endured ridicule due to his lack of fluency in English, but he pressed on. And he managed to gather enough money for the basics - rent a small apartment, buy modest furniture from thrift stores and put a down payment on a car. Nine months later, he sent airline tickets for my mom, my brother and me.

Decades later, as an American citizen, I look back at what he'd shown me. He taught me the determination to move forward when facing adversity. He set an example proving that humility is crucial to success. He demonstrated the commitment to family and the importance of setting priorities.

His journey taught me valuable lessons for my own path in the darkness. Much like a baby takes its first steps holding tight to his father's hand, my dad held onto God as he stepped from the comfort of our hometown in Bolivia to the unknown in a foreign land.

I did the same as I stepped into the unfamiliarity of a sightless world. Holding onto God's hand, I gained confidence and learned the language of gratitude. With profound appreciation for my father's example, I learned how he had applied a powerful blend of faith and tenacity; the same blend I used to fulfill my own role as a wife, mom, Sunday school teacher, Spanish court interpreter, inspirational speaker and writer.

What I inherited from my father helped me to see my life with a more radiant and meaningful glow.

To Have It All


My journey of self-discovery continued, and I was expanding my sense of myself and my own identity. In many ways, I thought that I was finally starting to feel successful and happy.

I had a growing sense of well-being and satisfaction, and I adored being a mother and taking care of my son. I was enjoying my life as a single woman and investing plenty of quality time in my relationship with my son Michel. In addition, I bought a lovely, beautifully decorated four bedroom home in a wonderful neighborhood. I was making a good living, earning more and more each year. I sensed that I was on the path to my destiny of helping others.

I was feeling optimistic about life and more secure than ever as I consciously worked on developing a sense of worthiness. I was bravely facing my difficult negative emotions, learning what I could from them and actively choosing to replace them with more positive feelings.

However, there was still something missing. As much as I was making progress, I knew that I had the power within me to create so much more.

Financial worries, and fears that I might not find love again, gnawed at me. I didn't know why I was so restless and was experiencing a sense of lack. It didn't occur to me that my emotions were causing me to feel vaguely dissatisfied because they were so subtle that I often didn't recognize them. My positive feelings were there, but it was as if many of them were barely audible and I had to strain to hear them.

I felt that if I tried harder, I could "force" success and take my life to a whole new level, but I quickly found that I wasn't getting where I wanted to go, no matter how hard I worked.Consequently, I held tightly to everything that I achieved while still being consumed by negative thoughts and feelings about what I didn't have. The success I enjoyed led me to want more - I believed that if I just made additional money, I'd be less anxious and more at peace. But the harder I worked to keep what I had and grab for more, the greater the fear I felt.

Then my income began to drop, and I frantically tried to figure out what I was doing wrong professionally. I took some necessary risks to boost business, but what I didn't realize was that by focusing on what I didn't want to experience (namely, fear, anxiety, and lack), I was holding myself back from achieving what I did want - contentment, calm, and abundance. I tried to believe the spiritual teachers and self-help experts who said that prosperity would be mine if only I'd accept it, but it felt as if I had no control over making more money. I was terrified of losing my business and my home, and I was getting sucked into a whirlpool of negativity. I questioned my self-worth and wondered how I could have the nerve to teach others about being successful. I was dangerously close to losing everything that I'd worked so hard to achieve.

Fortunately, that led me to my fourth epiphany:
"To have it all, you have to be willing to give it all up."I needed to let go of the fear that I would lose myself if I lost my "things." I realized that if I did so, I'd truly be able to stop being so afraid. But did I have the courage to surrender it all?

The truth is that I didn't necessarily have to give up everything I had (I didn't have to relinquish my house, for example), but I understood that I had to be willing to give it all up. I had to be prepared to detach from what I owned, because by being attached to situations, I was creating powerful negative feelings. I didn't have faith that no matter what happened around me - regardless of what I might lose - I had the power to control my anxiety and fear and create happiness for myself. I was afraid that if I lost what I had, my destructive emotions would take charge of my life.

I realized that there was no reason to be possessive when it came to my material wealth if I could just have faith that everything in my life could be created again, because I'd created it in the first place. If you have the power to build, you have the power to rebuild. In my head, I trusted that money is just an outward manifestation of the abundance and wealth that's experienced within, but I had to be convinced of that in my heart. I finally understood that laboring to create the things I wanted for myself wasn't nearly as effective as focusing on creating my desired emotions. I didn't have to work or think harder; I needed to forge the positive feelings that were associated with my goals.

If I wanted to be confident, I had to create the feeling of confidence, and the universe would respond by helping me succeed. If I hoped to be wealthy, I needed to create a feeling of richness and abundance, and the universe would bring me prosperity. I understood that what I co-created might not come in the form I expected. (For instance, maybe I'd draw in new clients, but it would be through an unexpected avenue - or I'd get the money I was seeking not by acquiring additional business, but through another source.) Of course, I had to work to make the most of the opportunities that the universe presented to me, but I now knew that I didn't have to continue to frantically struggle to achieve my goals. I could attract the situations that mirrored my feelings of happiness, abundance, and confidence.When I began to genuinely believe that I'm more than what I have - that I'm not defined by what I've achieved, and I don't have to point to material goods as evidence of my worthiness - my life started to change dramatically. I created the emotions that I wanted to feel, and the newfound power within me allowed me to grow and prosper as I'd never done before in my life.

The Teacup


There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in the beautiful stores. This was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. They both liked antiques and pottery and especially teacups.

One day in this beautiful shop they saw a beautiful teacup. They said "May we see that? We've never seen one quite so beautiful." As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke.

"You don't understand," it said. "I haven't always been a teacup.

There was a time when I was red and I was clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, let me alone,' but he only smiled, 'Not yet'.

"Then I was placed on a spinning wheel," the teacup said, "and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. 'Stop it! I'm getting dizzy!' I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, 'Not yet.'

Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled, and I knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head, 'Not yet.'

"Finally the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. 'There, that's better,' I said. And he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. 'Stop it, stop it!' I cried. He only nodded, 'Not yet.'

"Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening nodding his head, saying, 'Not yet.'

"Then I knew there wasn't any hope. I would never make it. I was ready to give up. But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf. One hour later he handed me a mirror and said, 'Look at yourself.' And I did. I said, 'That's not me; that couldn't be me. It's beautiful. I'm beautiful.'

'I want you to remember, then,' he said, 'I know it hurt to be rolled and patted, but if I just left you, you'd have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn't put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn't done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life, and if I hadn't put you back in that second oven, you wouldn't survive for very long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.'

The House of 1000 Mirrors


Long ago in a small, far away village, there was a place known as the House of 1000 Mirrors. A small, happy little dog learned of this place and decided to visit. When he arrived, he bounced happily up the stairs to the doorway of the house. He looked through the doorway with his ears lifted high and his tail wagging as fast as it could. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at 1000 other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. He smiled a great smile, and was answered with 1000 great smiles just as warm and friendly. As he left the house, he thought to himself, "This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit it often."

In this same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house. He slowly climbed the stairs and hung his head low as he looked into the door. When he saw the 1000 unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was horrified to see 1000 little dogs growling back at him. As he left, he thought to himself, "That is a horrible place, and I will never go back there again."

All the faces in the world are mirrors. What kind of reflections do you see in the faces of the people you meet?

The Girl in Pink Dress


There was this little girl sitting by herself in the park. Everyone passed by her and never stopped to see why she looked so sad. Dressed in a worn pink dress, barefoot and dirty, the girl just sat and watched the people go by. She never tried to speak. She never said a word. Many people passed by her, but no one would stop.

The next day I decided to go back to the park in curiosity to see if the little girl would still be there. Yes, she was there, right in the very spot where she was yesterday, and still with the same sad look in her eyes.

Today I was to make my own move and walk over to the little girl. For as we all know, a park full of strange people is not a place for young children to play alone. As I got closer I could see the back of the little girl's dress was grotesquely shaped. I figured that was the reason people just passed by and made no effort to speak to her.

As I got closer, the little girl lowered her eyes slightly to avoid my intent stare. As I approached her, I could see the shape of her back more clearly. She was grotesquely shaped in a humped-over form.

I smiled to let her know it was OK; I was there to help, to talk. I sat down beside her and opened with a simple, "Hello." The little girl acted shocked, and stammered a "hi," after a long stare into my eyes. I smiled and she shyly smiled back.

We talked until darkness fell and the park was completely empty. I asked the girl why she was so sad. The little girl looked at me with a sad face said, "Because I'm different." I immediately said, "That you are!" and smiled. The little girl acted even sadder and said, "I know."

"Little girl," I said, "you remind me of an angel, sweet and innocent." She looked at me and smiled, then slowly she got to her feet and said, "Really?"

"Yes, you're like a little Guardian Angel sent to watch over all those people walking by." She nodded her head yes, and smiled. With that she opened the back of her pink dress and allowed her wings to spread, then she said "I am. I'm your Guardian Angel," with a twinkle in her eye. I was speechless -- sure I was seeing things.

She said, "For once you thought of someone other than yourself. My job here is done."

I got to my feet and said, "Wait, why did no one stop to help an angel?" She looked at me, smiled, and said, "You are the only one that could see me," and then she was gone. And with that, my life was changed dramatically. So, when you think you're all you have, remember, your angel is always watching over you.

The Butterfly's Struggle


What do butterflies have in common with the human spirit? Meet Maggie, a middle aged wife and mother who was about to find out.

Maggie wasn’t rich like a millionaire or poor in a manner of being homeless. She was living an average comfortable life. It was made even better when a beautiful baby girl came her way. She and her husband made sure their daughter had her needs met and they were still able to take a yearly vacation by the beach.

Maggie was a partner in her husband’s business. They both had a different set of duties which kept everything in balance. One day a devastating blow came to her husband’s business, and over a three year period the business dropped out of site. Her husband had to totally reinvent himself and was yearning to fulfill a dream with a new vocation. She was happy for him and supported him fully, but still the money was not coming in.

Maggie began to feel guilty that she wasn’t contributing with any kind of income. It had been a long time since she had worked outside the home and had to work for someone else. Needless to say she was scared but still had faith that everything would be okay. She began job hunting and found filling out applications somewhat difficult, especially the part asking for job references. Keep in mind that she was self-employed with her husband for almost 20 years. It felt as though that didn’t count for anything as she was never called for an interview.

At the time she was job hunting her mom became more ill than she had been and ended up in the hospital for a week. Once Maggie’s mom returned home she became her mom’s helper one day a week. She did the shopping, changed sheets, vacuumed and did other things that her mother was not able to do anymore. Of course her mom would pay her for her time and labor but she still felt she needed to find another source of income.

One of the first applications she had filled out finally came through. She passed the interview with flying colors and was told she was “exactly” what they were looking for. Although it was only part time it was exactly what she wanted. It was important for her to be home when her daughter arrived home from school. She was told they would be in touch when the schedule was ready. Knowing she had the job made her feel contented and productive again.

Within a few weeks though, she received an e-mail saying that the company had changed the job into a full time position and she was not qualified. Maggie was devastated. She felt betrayed and felt she had been lied to. That evening she was alone as her husband and daughter had gone out for the night. She welcomed the aloneness and wanted to drown her sorrows in a hot tub of bubbles.

As she knew she would, she began to cry, softly at first just from the sheer pain of being rejected. Three long years of struggle had finally caught up with her. Then she became angry; angry at everything from the circumstances that got her there, to God himself. She cried harder and yelled, “What do you want me to do?” She really felt that God had abandoned her.

When she was able to cry no more, she became exhausted and gave up. It was at that moment that a silent idea came to her to offer other elderly people home care assistance.

Using another talent for computers she printed off some flyers and cards and distributed them to her church, grocery stores and even placed a small ad in the newspaper. Within a week she had procured two new clients.

Now, even though she’s not a CEO of a major company or a power player she feels happy and productive again. So, had God really abandoned her? Let’s look at nature for the lessons and the answer.

Before a butterfly can emerge out of it’s chrysalis it has to go through a lot of struggling. Yes, struggling. Each time it lunges out to escape, acids are being removed from its wings. If someone were to come along and break the chrysalis open for it then the butterfly would die from those acids. In essence the struggle is necessary for the butterfly to survive. Then in the stillness, when the struggle is over, the butterfly can come out and share its beauty with the world.

We as humans are not any different. There are times that we need to struggle, to rid ourselves of the acids that make up sadness, fear, and anger. It is only at this time when we are exhausted and still that we begin to hear the Universe whisper to us.

The Best Time Of My Life


It was June 15, and in two days I would be turning thirty. I was insecure about entering a new decade of my life and feared that my best years were now behind me.

My daily routine included going to the gym for a workout before going to work. Every morning I would see my friend Nicholas at the gym. He was seventy-nine years old and in terrific shape. As I greeted Nicholas on this particular day, he noticed I wasn't full of my usual vitality and asked if there was anything wrong. I told him I was feeling anxious about turning thirty. I wondered how I would look back on my life once I reached Nicholas's age, so I asked him, "What was the best time of your life?"

Without hesitation, Nicholas replied, "Well, Joe, this is my philosophical answer to your philosophical question:

"When I was a child in Austria and everything was taken care of for me and I was nurtured by my parents, that was the best time of my life.

"When I was going to school and learning the things I know today, that was the best time of my life.

"When I got my first job and had responsibilities and got paid for my efforts, that was the best time of my life.

"When I met my wife and fell in love, that was the best time of my life.

"The Second World War came, and my wife and I had to flee Austria to save our lives. When we were together and safe on a ship bound for North America, that was the best time of my life.

"When we came to Canada and started a family, that was the best time of my life.

"When I was a young father, watching my children grow up, that was the best time of my life.

"And now, Joe, I am seventy-nine years old. I have my health, I feel good and I am in love with my wife just as I was when we first met. This is the best time of my life."

The Art of Intuitive Action


About 10 years ago my daughter was about 2500 kilometers from Newcastle, and rang me one day sobbing because of an emotional trauma she was facing. She was about 20, and in a town known as Ayrlie Beach in Northern Queensland. I asked her what it was that she needed most in that moment, and she replied that she needed support, and my arms around her would be the best thing that she could hope for! Because I couldn't do that in that exact moment, I asked her to describe her surroundings to me (I have absolutely no idea 'why', at the time), and said that if she hadn't heard from me in about 30 minutes to ring me back. I asked her to stay exactly where she was. I had no idea how I was going to ring her back, by the way, as she was calling from a public phone booth (one of three), near a little park, surrounded by a few shops in the main street of Ayrlie Beach.

OK then, after hanging up the phone, I just sat for a few seconds. After only a very short time a phone number 'jumped into my head', and even though I recognized it, it wasn't a commonly used number of mine. I rang the number and it was a woman who had bought a house from me about 18 months previously, when I was working in Real Estate. My exact words to her were these, "Oh, it's you Liz, I have no idea why I'm calling you in particular, but my daughter is stranded in Ayrlie Beach, and I just got the thought to ring you and tell you that. Have you any idea why?"

"It could be because my Son lives there," says Liz.

"Oh really, that's got to be it," I said. "Do you mind giving me his phone number Liz?"

"Of course not, and I can only hope that he can be of some help!"

Liz gave me his mobile number and I rang straight away (only about 5 minutes have passed since telling my daughter that somehow I'd get her help). Fortunately, he answered immediately, and I told him the story of who I was, and why I'd rung.

I gave him the description of my daughter; where she was standing; and that she needed emotional support if he could find it in his heart to help out so unexpectedly like this. "Oh yes, I can see her," he said..."she's right across the street from where I'm standing!" He walked across the street and told my daughter that her Dad had sent him!

Imagine that...she almost fainted: only about 10 minutes had passed since she had rung me! I believe that she said something like this, "Wow, Dad's getting pretty good at this stuff!" She was taken to a safe house; nurtured and supported; given food and a bed for a couple nights; and also given money to get herself to where she needed to be.

That's intuition at it's best!

It may save a life or two if people can embrace the use of intuition, and learn to trust in it.

Remember: "What others do or say is their stuff; how we react, or not, is our stuff!"

Serenity


Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.

A person becomes calm in the measure that one understands themselves as a thought evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought, and as one develops a right understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect, one ceases to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast, serene.

The calm person, having learned how to govern themselves, knows how to adapt themselves to others; and they, in turn, reverence their spiritual strength, and feel that they can learn of them and rely upon them. The more tranquil a person becomes, the greater is their success, their influence, their power for good. Even the ordinary trader will find their business prosperity increase as one develops a greater self control and equanimity, for people will always prefer to deal with a person whose demeanor is strongly equable.

The strong, calm person is always loved and revered. They are like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm. Who does not love a tranquil heart, a sweet-tempered, balanced life? It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene, and calm. That exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture; it is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere money seeking looks in comparison with a serene life — a life that dwells in the ocean of truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of tempests, in the eternal calm!

How many people we know who sour their lives, who ruin all that is sweet and beautiful by explosive tempers, who destroy their poise of character, and make bad blood! It is a question whether the great majority of people do not ruin their lives and mar their happiness by lack of self-control flow few people we meet in life who are well-balanced, who have that exquisite poise which is characteristic of the finished character!

Yes, humanity surges with uncontrolled passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and doubt. Only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of the soul obey him.

Tempest-tossed souls, wherever you may be, under whatever conditions you may live, know this: In the ocean of life the isles of blessedness are smiling and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hands firmly upon the helm of thought. In the core of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep; wake Him. Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, "Peace. Be still."

James Allen
1864-1912, Author

Rain Washed


A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in Target. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout. We all stood there under the awning and just inside the door of the Target.

We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day. I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

The little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in, "Mom, let's run through the rain," she said. "What?" Mom asked.

"Let's run through the rain!" She repeated.

"No, honey. We'll wait until it slows down a bit," Mom replied.

This young child waited about another minute and repeated, "Mom, let's run through the rain."

"We'll get soaked if we do," Mom said.

"No, we won't, Mom. That's not what you said this morning," the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom's arm.

"This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?"

"Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, 'If God can get us through this, he can get us through anything!'"

The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn't hear anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one came or left in the next few minutes. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith.

"Honey, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain. If God let's us get wet, well maybe we just needed washing," Mom said.

Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case. They got soaked. But they were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars.

And yes, I did. I ran. I got wet. I needed washing.

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories... So, don't forget to make time and take opportunities to make memories everyday. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

I hope you still take the time to run through the rain.

My Resignation


I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult. I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of an eight-year-old again.

I want to go to McDonald's and think that it's a four-star restaurant.

I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make a sidewalk with rocks.

I want to think M&Ms are better than money because you can eat them.

I want to run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summer's day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple, when all you knew were colors, multiplication tables and nursery rhymes, but that didn't bother you because you didn't know what you didn't know and you didn't care.

All you knew was to be happy, because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.

I want to think the world is fair. That everyone is honest and good.

I want to believe that anything is possible. I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again.

I want to live simply again. I don't want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive when there are more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness and loss of loved ones.

I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, mankind and making angels in the snow.

I want to play with my pets and my days of imagination to last forever.

So here are my checkbook and my car keys, my credit card bills and my 401(k) statements. I am officially resigning from adulthood.

And if you want to discuss this further, you'll have to catch me first because,"Tag! You're it!"

Kindness


One day a woman was walking down the street when she spied a beggar sitting on the corner. The man was elderly, unshaven, and ragged. As he sat there, pedestrians walked by him giving him dirty looks. They clearly wanted nothing to do with him because of who he was — a dirty, homeless man. But when she saw him, the woman was moved to compassion.

It was very cold that day and the man had his tattered coat wrapped around him. She stopped and looked down. "Sir?" she asked. "Are you all right?"

The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before. "Leave me alone," he growled.

To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling — her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. "Are you hungry?" she asked.

"No," he answered sarcastically. "I've just come from dining with the president. Now go away."

The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm. "What are you doing, lady?" the man asked angrily. "I said to leave me alone."

Just then a policeman came up. "Is there any problem, ma'am?" he asked.

"No problem here, officer," the woman answered. "I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?"

The officer scratched his head. "That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?"

"See that cafeteria over there?" she asked. "I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile."

"Are you crazy, lady?" the homeless man resisted. "I don't want to go in there!" Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. "Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything."

"This is a good deal for you, Jack," the officer answered. "Don't blow it."

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by the table. "What's going on here, officer?" he asked. "What is all this. Is this man in trouble?"

"This lady brought this man in here to be fed," the policeman answered.

"Not in here!" the manager replied angrily. "Having a person like that here is bad for business."

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. "See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place."

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. "Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?"

"Of course I am," the manager answered impatiently. "They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms."

"And do you make a good profit from providing food at the weekly meetings?"

"What business is that of yours?"

"I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company."

"Oh."

The woman smiled again. "I thought that might make a difference." She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. "Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?"

"No thanks, ma'am," the officer replied. "I'm on duty."

Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?"

"Yes, ma'am. That would be very nice."

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel. "I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer."

The officer watched him walk away. "You certainly put him in his place," he said.

"That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this." She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently. "Jack, do you remember me?"

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes "I think so – I mean you do look familiar."

"I'm a little older perhaps," she said. "Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry."

"Ma'am?" the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

"I was just out of college," the woman began. "I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat."

Jack lit up with a smile. "Now I remember," he said. "I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy."

"I know," the woman continued. "Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register. I knew then that everything would be all right."

"So you started your own business?" Old Jack said.

"I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered." She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. "When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for you to do around the office." She smiled. "I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. And if you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you."

There were tears in the old man's eyes. "How can I ever thank you," he said.

"Don't thank me," the woman answered. "To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus. He led me to you."

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. "Thank you for all your help, officer," she said.

"On the contrary, Ms. Eddy," he answered. "Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And... And thank you for the coffee."

She frowned. "I forgot to ask you whether you used cream or sugar. That's black."

The officer looked at the steaming cup of coffee in his hand. "Yes, I do take cream and sugar – perhaps more sugar than is good for me." He patted his ample stomach.

"I'm sorry," she said.

"I don't need it now," he replied smiling. "I've got the feeling that this coffee you bought me is going to taste as sweet as sugar."

It Takes Courage


It takes strength to be firm,
It takes courage to be gentle.

It takes strength to conquer,
It takes courage to surrender.

It takes strength to be certain,
It takes courage to have doubt.

It takes strength to fit in,
It takes courage to stand out.

It takes strength to feel a friend's pain,
It takes courage to feel your own pain.

It takes strength to endure abuse,
It takes courage to stop it.

It takes strength to stand alone,
It takes courage to lean on another.

It takes strength to love,
It takes courage to be loved.

It takes strength to survive,
It takes courage to live.

I Would Pick More Daisies


When the late Nadine Stair of Louisville, Kentucky, was 85 years old, she was asked what she would do if she had her life to live over again.

"I'd make more mistakes next time," she said. "I'd relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been on this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.

"You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, and a raincoat. If I had to do it over again, I would travel lighter than I have.

"If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds and I would pick more daisies."

Homecomings


Working in Detroit...Rain, Rain, and more Rain...

I dashed to the rental car drop off, to the shuttle, and to the airport only to find out from an airline ticket representative that my return flight was one hour late.

As I cleared security, the progress of my flight went from one hour, then two hours, then three hours, then four hours late departing. I learned about these delays from the announcements given by a weary airline gate agent.

It became clear that I was going to miss my connecting flight home.

After minute-by-minute travel rearrangements, and knowing that I had to deliver a web-based training the next morning back home, Jim decided to drive the three hours to the hub airport, fetch me, and drive me back.

Jim and I arrived home at 4:30 am. Funny what dreams you have when your Starbucks frequent drinker card gets punched all the way through in 24 hours. I napped a couple of hours, made coffee, logged on to the internet conference site for my training, and waited and waited and waited.

It is lonely at a web-based live meeting training when no one logs in. Do you know why they didn't log in? Because I had actually scheduled the training for the next day, not this day that we had raced home to await. I had a brain freeze and remembered the last weekday I worked with this group and that just stuck.

I worried about telling Jim that he had held off sleep, driven through a storm to raise Noah's ark, and road construction to get me home 24 hours early for a training. But the phone eventually rang as he called from work and it was time to own up.

What do you think he said?

What would you have said?

Would you have scolded? Yelled? Teased? Berated? Would you call all of your friends and let them know? I might say nothing but put the incident in a mental "debit" column, ready to trot out the offense at the next opportune time.

Well, Jim's response to finding out that he had driven almost 400 miles round trip in the rain, construction, and fatigue-time of the night in order to get me home eight hours early was a slight chuckle and this comment, "The important thing is you are home."

...the important thing is your are home...

Today, remind someone how vital it is that they are at home with you. If they live away, tell them how important it is that they have a home in your heart.

Death Is Not The End


Her name was Bonnie. She was 57 years old the day she died. It was her birthday. She was a hard worker who loved gardening in her sprawling country yard. She was a beloved elementary school teacher and volunteer in her community. She loved her family and her baby grandson.

She was a woman of faith and honor. She was the kind of person you could always count on to be there if you needed anything. I know...she was my neighbor.

As a testament to the impact she had on the lives of those she met, the line at the funeral home wound back and forth in serpentine fashion through the room in which she lay, into the reception area, out the door and down the long parking lot. She was loved by countless many.

The verse on her memorial card was a profound expression of the inextricable mix of her love of the beauty in nature and her faith in the afterlife. May we all find hope and comfort in these exquisite words by Juanita DeLong:

My Hereafter

Do not come when I am dead
To sit beside a low green mound,
Or bring the first gay daffodils
Because I love them so,
For I shall not be there.
You cannot find me there.
I will look at you from the eyes of little children;
I will bend to meet you in the swaying boughs of bud-thrilled trees,
And caress you with the passionate sweep of storm-filled winds;
I will give you strength in your upward tread of everlasting hills;
I will cool your body in the flow of the limpid river;
I will warm your work-glorified hands through the glow of the winter fire;
I will soothe you into forgetfulness to the drop,
drop of the rain on the roof;
I will speak to you out of the rhymes of the Masters;
I will dance with you in the lilt of the violin,
And make your heart leap with the bursting cadence of the organ;
I will flood your soul with the flaming radiance of the sunrise;
And bring you peace in the tender rose and gold of the after-sunset.
All these have made me happy,
They are a part of me;
I shall become a part of them.

by Juanita DeLong


-----------------------------------------------------------

She will live on.

Chicken Man


I utilized my time wisely while I was in the Navy, and earned both my B.S. and M.A degrees in my spare time while serving on active duty. It was never my career goal to retire from the Navy and wind up frying chicken and making subs in a supermarket deli...

After a 5 year stint as a human resource manager, the market dried up for experienced HR professionals, so I tried a back door approach to stay in human resources. I took a menial position in a supermarket deli frying chicken and making submarine sandwiches hoping to transfer to the corporate HR Department. Mentally, I never resigned myself to being a minimum wage employee. This was just an avenue to get a transfer into my dream position...

Because I approached my job with a different mind set, I was a "breath of fresh air" in the deli. Abraham Maslow would call this Self-Actualization; the joy is not in the compensation, but in performing the job itself. Every day, I practiced two personal philosophies: "Treat every customer like they are your next employer," and, "Treat every customer like family and treat every employee like customers."

In two years time, regretfully, the store didn't realize the gem they had, and I decided to move on. My two year experience taught me several things. I learned being nice is a choice, and why not choose to be nice? My working conditions were not enviable, but I went out of my way to be the bright spot in my customer's day. I knew many by first names and many shopped our deli exclusively because they enjoyed being treated as special. Not only did being nice make my shift enjoyable and rewarding, but I could see in the faces of my customers, that niceness equates to the intangible joy experienced when one receives a beautiful bouquet of flowers for no special reason from a loved one or a friend. This is exactly the same message conveyed by Peggy McColl in an article entitled, "Something of Value," appearing on 11/30/07 in, 'Insight of the Day' by Michael Angier/SuccessNet.org.

A world without niceness makes for a sea of disgruntled customers and a very dismal planet. Spread cheers over sneers!

Because I Was Told I Can


About 6 months ago, I joined a gym. Every morning, there is one personal trainer there that works out at the same time that my little group does our workout. He does his "routine" with such a quiet determination that he makes it all look very easy; although I know all too well how hard he is working. When I am tempted to whine and quit, I watch him push himself to his own limits, and I find myself motivated to work as hard and without complaint.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching him do chin ups. He made them look effortless. I broke away from my group and asked him if I could try a chin up. I had never tried before, but he just made it look so easy. He eagerly stepped aside and encouraged me to step up to the bar. I pulled myself up without thinking...once...then twice. That was all I had in me, I had no strength left. I told him that was all I had, so he stepped up behind me and pushed me up for a third and fourth "pull." It felt so good. I felt strong and I smiled from ear to ear.

The next day when I was done my workout, I asked him to spot me again. Again, I did two. Again on day three and so on. I thought it was pathetic that I could only do two, but when I came to the gym at the end of the week, he was standing there just shaking his head. When I asked him what was up, he said he was impressed with my chin ups. He told me that when they are training firefighters, the men are required to do 5 chin ups, and women are required to do 1 or 2. He explained that most people can't do them at all, and that he was impressed that I could. He further told me that if I practiced every day, I would be doing 5 or 6 in no time. At this point I should probably add that I am 50 years old...and female.

The moral of this story...because I didn't know any better, because he told me I could, I saw no reason to doubt. I just jumped in and gave it a try - and I did it! I didn't see it as a great accomplishment, because I didn't realize that it was difficult and it became my goal to get stronger. No one told me I couldn't do it, in fact, I was encouraged to try. Had he told me initially how difficult it was, I more than likely would not have tried at all. Or I might have tried, but given it only half an effort, because failure would have been the expectation. I applaud him for letting me believe that for me, it was not only a possibility, but that success was a realistic expectation.

How many times have we decided not to try at all because we were told that we couldn't, that we shouldn't, that we had expectations that were too ambitious? How many times have we told our children, our friends and our co-workers that they couldn't do something; that their ideas were impossible or beyond reach? How many times have we told ourselves that we would fail before we even started?

I started to ponder examples that I had witnessed and this came to mind...I recalled a conversation a friend of mine had with his daughter just prior to her heading off to university. He spoke to her (with good intentions) of how hard she would have to work in order to succeed. University wasn't like High School - this was the real world and now she would have to grow up. This child quit after two years. Another friend spoke to her daughter of the adventure she was embarking on and how proud she was. I remember how we laughed because the mother already had her outfit picked out for convocation day! This child just graduated with her degree in physiology. Looking back, neither daughter was more intelligent than the other. Was it the silent expectations (or lack thereof) that predicted the outcome?

I have a new approach now. I have experienced first hand how good it feels to rush in so innocently. To believe that we CAN do it and go on to accomplish exactly what we set out to do, because no one told us we couldn't. I've learned how important it is to support others (and ourselves) in our endeavors and to let them know that we believe they can do it rather than telling them we think that they can't.

I personally want to be like my trainer; standing there behind the people that I love, encouraging them, believing in them and being ready to catch them when they get tired. I will be the one that is there on the second and third day making sure they try again, because I know they CAN.

What a powerful lesson this has been for me. I'll be doing "5" in no time at all. Because I was told I CAN.

A Glass of Milk


One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water.

She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?"

"You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness."

He said..... "Then I thank you from my heart." As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Year's later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor's gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval.

He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill.

She read these words.....

"Paid in full with one glass of milk"

(Signed)
Dr. Howard Kelly

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: "Thank You, God, that Your love has spread abroad through human hearts and hands."

A Box of Kisses


The story goes that some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, "This is for you, Daddy." He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found the box was empty.

He yelled at her, "Don't you know that when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside it?"

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said,"Oh, Daddy, it is not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy."

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness.
It is told that the man kept that gold box by his bed for years and whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

In a very real sense, each of us as humans have been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, friends, family and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Follow Your Heart


We all have different hearts.
Be of good heart.

Billy loved Katie with all his heart. But he never told a single soul. Katie secretly loved him too. But she thought she would never have a chance with him. Billy asked his friends what they think of her and his friends thought she was gay. They didn't like her at all. So Billy just went along with them. They all made fun of her and made her feel really bad. Katie was so upset.

One day they followed her home from school making fun of her the whole way home. Once she got inside her house she dropped to the floor cringe. She had a crush on Billy since 3rd grade. She didn't know what to do. When Billy got home he felt real bad about what he had done. So he decided to go to Katie's house to tell her he was sorry and that he really loves her.

When he got there he knocked on the door no one answered.

The door was open so he walked in. He walked into the living room and found Katie lying dead on the floor. She had slit her wrists. Billy was so upset . He knew it was his fault she killed herself. And now he could never tell her how he really felt.

Don't wait until the last minute to tell someone how you really feel. Because it just might be too late. And don't always go by what your friends say, follow your heart.

A Diary From A Guy


January 2

Do you still remember the first time we met? It was the first day in school. I was hurriedly entering the school gate when I bumped into you as you stepped out of a luxurious Volvo. The books you were holding fell all over the ground. I quickly picked up the books and returned them to you along with words of apology, but all you showed me was your intimidating look. My first impression of you was that you were a wilful girl born with a golden sthingy in the mouth. I had rejected you completely and had hoped not to meet you again, but surprisingly you turned out to be my classmate.

March 22

I started to know more about you as days passed and my opinion of you changed for the better on each passing day. I realised that you were from a wealthy family but definitely not a wilful girl. You were nice and friendly. You got angry that day we first met because I had left a footprint marking on the poetry collection you loved dearly. We met often during lunch break and I found something in you that was different from the rest of the girls — your passion for Chinese poetry. Often you would mumble something to yourself. Initially, I thought that you were humming a pop song but later I realised that you had been reciting Chinese poems from great poets. You were so knowledgeable that you knew every poet and which poems they composed. I was very impressed indeed.

April 5

I met you again in the study area. That day you were reading the Chinese classics "Romance of the 3 kingdom". Your ability to appreciate Chinese classics left me with admiration. You were indeed unique in many ways.

May 5

From then on, we would often meet in the study area to discuss about the good and bad things of the character in these Chinese classics. Do you still remember the time when we almost broke off because we could not agree on whether Jia BaoYu hurt Lin Dai Yu? Our argument was so fierce that we never talked for that week. But when Friday came, we still met in the study area and laughed over the incident. After which, another argument started.

Aug 7
I could not deny it. It was a feeling I could not identify accurately. Whenever you laughed over a joke with other guys, that emotion filled my senses. It took me a while before identified it. I was in love; the feeling was jealousy. I felt the need to express it. But, I was afraid...that you would dismiss my feeling, that you and I would be stuck in an embarrassing situation, that our long nurtured friendship would crumble...therefore, I kept quiet.


Oct 1

The news came as a shock to me. I was so worried when I learnt that you had fainted in the canteen. I was struggling to keep my worried face in control as I looked at the ambulance that carried you away.

Oct 2

It was drizzling that day. Our form teacher sadly announced that you had got cancer. As she finished her last sentence, outside the classroom, it seemed to me that the drizzle had turned into a downpour. I could only hear the sound of the rain, nothing more. I rushed to NUH ICU to see you immediately after lesson. Your face was whitish in colour, showing no trace of red. I learnt that you had just undergone an operation. The life-support system was just beside you with tubes piercing mercilessly into your left wrist. "I am all right, it is just a serious case of anemia. Believe me, my parents told me that". you said convincingly. I knew fully well what you were thinking, you did not want me to be worried. "Are you comforting yourself or comforting the fears and hopelessness that was written all over my face?", I thought to myself. I was not strong enough to disagree with you and I nodded my head with a forced smile. You responded with a smile too — with great effort.

Oct 5

It was a ordinary day but to me, it was an important day. I felt an impulse to express my love. I walked over to the side of your bed, holding your hand. I told you the story of how an ordinary guy fell in love with a girl who likes poetry and Chinese classics. As I told my story, my eyes started to flood with water, and uncontrollably my voice started to choke, and finally I broke into tear. But you held my head against your body and with watery eyes, said: "I understand such a love, so did the girl." I returned my eyes to her and at that moment, her tears dropped, and for the first time, I saw some redness on her lips.

Oct 26

It was the last day of examination and I rushed to NUH. When I reached there, I only saw the nurse arranging the bed you once slept on. When I asked about you, the nurse told me expressionlessly that you had passed away. It was a bolt from the blue for me. I stood motionless for a long time. I hated myself for spending the last few days preparing for the last examination paper. I hated myself for not staying longer the last time I visited you. I hated myself so much...but you were gone...... I can't remember how I got home that day. When I woke up, I was already in my room. The pillow I slept on was wet. The next day, I went for the funeral. I heard from your father that on the day you passed away, you were still reading the Poetry collection I gave you as a gift for your birthday. Standing in front of Your portrait, I had no tears, they were used up on the day of your death. All I knew was sadness, my heart was like shattered into pieces and died.

Jan 2

A new girl has taken over your seat. She does not like poetry, but she likes to hum pop songs. When I asked her if she knows Jia Bao Yu, she replied: "What talking you." Yes, you were gone. But to me, the seat is still unoccupied, and maybe no one will ever occupy it......

Treasure your love ones coz they might not be always around. Share this story to those you cherish most and let them feel their "presence" are important as they are part of our lives too!!

The Love Letter



I was always a little in awe of Great-aunt Stephina Roos. Indeed, as children we were all frankly terrified of her. The fact that she did not live with the family, preferring her tiny cottage and solitude to the comfortable but rather noisy household where we were brought up — added to the respectful fear in which she was held.

We used to take it in turn to carry small delicacies which my mother had made down from the big house to the little cottage where Aunt Stephia and an old colored maid spent their days. Old Tnate Sanna would open the door to the rather frightened little messenger and would usher him or her into the dark voor-kamer, where the shutters were always closed to keep out the heat and the flies. There we would wait, in trembling but not altogether unpleasant.

She was a tiny little woman to inspire so much veneration. She was always dressed in black, and her dark clothes melted into the shadows of the voor-kamer and made her look smaller than ever. But you felt the moment she entered. That something vital and strong and somehow indestructible had come in with her, although she moved slowly, and her voice was sweet and soft.

She never embraced us. She would greet us and take out hot little hands in her own beautiful cool one, with blue veins standing out on the back of it, as though the white skin were almost too delicate to contain them.

Tante Sanna would bring in dishes of sweet, sweet, sticky candy, or a great bowl of grapes or peaches, and Great-aunt Stephina would converse gravely about happenings on the farm, and, more rarely, of the outer world.

When we had finished our sweetmeats or fruit she would accompany us to the stoep, bidding us thank our mother for her gift and sending quaint, old-fashioned messages to her and the Father. Then she would turn and enter the house, closing the door behind, so that it became once more a place of mystery.

As I grew older I found, rather to my surprise, that I had become genuinely fond of my aloof old great-aunt. But to this day I do not know what strange impulse made me take George to see her and to tell her, before I had confided in another living soul, of our engagement. To my astonishment, she was delighted.

"An Englishman,"she exclaimed."But that is splendid, splendid. And you,"she turned to George,"you are making your home in this country? You do not intend to return to England just yet?"

She seemed relieved when she heard that George had bought a farm near our own farm and intended to settle in South Africa. She became quite animated, and chattered away to him.

After that I would often slip away to the little cottage by the mealie lands. Once she was somewhat disappointed on hearing that we had decided to wait for two years before getting married, but when she learned that my father and mother were both pleased with the match she seemed reassured.

Still, she often appeared anxious about my love affair, and would ask questions that seemed to me strange, almost as though she feared that something would happen to destroy my romance. But I was quite unprepared for her outburst when I mentioned that George thought of paying a lightning visit to England before we were married. "He must not do it," she cried. "Ina, you must not let him go. Promise me you will prevent him." She was trembling all over. I did what I could to console her, but she looked so tired and pale that I persuaded her to go to her room and rest, promising to return the next day.

When I arrived I found her sitting on the stoep. She looked lonely and pathetic, and for the first time I wondered why no man had ever taken her and looked after her and loved her. Mother had told me that Great-aunt Stephina had been lovely as a young girl, and although no trace of that beauty remained, except perhaps in her brown eyes, yet she looked so small and appealing that any man, one felt, would have wanted to protect her.

She paused, as though she did not quite know how to begin.

Then she seemed to give herself, mentally, a little shake. "You must have wondered", she said, "why I was so upset at the thought of young George's going to England without you. I am an old woman, and perhaps I have the silly fancies of the old, but I should like to tell you my own love story, and then you can decide whether it is wise for your man to leave you before you are married."

"I was quite a young girl when I first met Richard Weston. He was an Englishman who boarded with the Van Rensburgs on the next farm, four or five miles from us. Richard was not strong. He had a weak chest, and the doctors had sent him to South Africa so that the dry air could cure him. He taught the Van Rensburg children, who were younger than I was, though we often played together, but he did this for pleasure and not because he needed money.

"We loved one another from the first moment we met, though we did not speak of our love until the evening of my eighteenth birthday. All our friends and relatives had come to my party, and in the evening we danced on the big old carpet which we had laid down in the barn. Richard had come with the Van Rensburgs, and we danced together as often as we dared, which was not very often, for my father hated the Uitlanders. Indeed, for a time he had quarreled with Mynheer Van Rensburg for allowing Richard to board with him, but afterwards he got used to the idea, and was always polite to the Englishman, though he never liked him.

"That was the happiest birthday of my life, for while we were resting between dances Richard took me outside into the cool, moonlit night, and there, under the stars ,he told me he loved me and asked me to marry him. Of course I promised I would, for I was too happy to think of what my parents would say, or indeed of anything except Richard was not at our meeting place as he had arranged. I was disappointed but not alarmed, for so many things could happen to either of us to prevent out keeping our tryst. I thought that next time we visited the Van Ransburgs, I should hear what had kept him and we could plan further meetings…

"So when my father asked if I would drive with him to Driefontein I was delighted. But when we reached the homestead and were sitting on the stoep drinking our coffee, we heard that Richard had left quite suddenly and had gone back to England. His father had died, and now he was the heir and must go back to look after his estates.

"I do not remember very much more about that day, except that the sun seemed to have stopped shining and the country no longer looked beautiful and full of promise, but bleak and desolate as it sometimes does in winter or in times of drought. Late that afternoon, Jantje, the little Hottentot herd boy, came up to me and handed me a letter , which he said the English baas had left for me. It was the only love letter I ever received, but it turned all my bitterness and grief into a peacefulness which was the nearest I could get, then, to happiness. I knew Richard still loved me, and somehow, as long as I had his letter, I felt that we could never be really parted, even if he were in England and I had to remain on the farm. I have it yet, and though I am an old, tired woman, it still gives me hope and courage."

"It must have been a wonderful letter, Aunt Stephia," I said.

The old lady came back from her dreams of that far-off romance. "Perhaps," she said, hesitating a little, "perhaps, my dear, you would care to read it?"

"I should love to, Aunt Stephia," I said gently.

She rose at once and tripped into the house as eagerly as a young girl. When she came back, she handed me a letter, faded and yellow with age, the edges of the envelope worn and frayed as though it had been much handled. But when I came to open it I found that the seal was unbroken.

"Open it ,open it," said Great-aunt Stephia, and her voice was shaking.

I broke the seal and read.

It was not a love letter in the true sense of the word, but pages of the minutest directions of how "my sweetest Phina" was to elude her father's vigilance, creep down to the drift at night and there meet Jantje with a horse which would take her to Smitsdorp. There she was to go to "my true friend, Henry Wilson", who would give her money and make arrangements for her to follow her lover to Cape Town and from there to England, "where, my love, we can be be married at once. But if, my dearest, you are not sure that you can face lift with me in a land strange to you, then do not take this important step, for I love you too much to wish you the smallest unhappiness. If you do not come, and if I do not hear from you, then I shall know that you could never be happy so far from the people and the country which you love. If, however, you feel you can keep your promise to me, but are of too timid and modest a journey to England unaccompanied, then write to me, and I will, by some means, return to fetch my bride."

I read no further.

"But Aunt Phina!"I gasped. "Why…why…?"

The old lady was watching me with trembling eagerness, her face flushed and her eyes bright with expectation."Read it aloud, my dear," she said. "I want to hear every word of it. There was never anyone I could trust… Uitlanders were hated in my young days… I could not ask anyone."

"But, Auntie, don't you even know what he wrote?"

The old lady looked down, troubled and shy like a child who has unwittingly done wrong.

"No, dear," she said, speaking very low."You see, I never learned to read.

Myanmar Love Story


10th Grade

As I sat there in English class, I stared at the girl next to me. She was my so called "best friend". I stared at her long, silky hair, and wished she was mine. But she didn't notice me like that, and I knew it.

After class, she walked up to me and asked me for the notes she had missed the day before and handed them to her. She said "thanks" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I wanted to tell her, I want her to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love her but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why.

11th Grade

The phone rang. On the other end, it was her. She was in tears, mumbling on and on about how her love had broke her heart. She asked me to come over because she didn't want to be alone, so I did. As I sat next to her on the sofa, I stared at her soft eyes, wishing she was mine. After 2 hours, one Drew Barrymore movie, and three bags of chips, she decided to go to sleep.

She looked at me, said "thanks" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love her but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why.

Senior Year

The day before prom she walked to my locker. "My date is sick" she said; he's not going to go well, I didn't have a date, and in 7th grade, we made a promise that if neither of us had dates, we would go together just as "best friends". So we did. Prom night, after everything was over, I was standing at her front door step! I stared at her as she smiled at me and stared at me with her crystal eyes. I want her to be mine, but she isn't think of me like that, and I know it. Then she said "I had the best time, thanks!" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love her but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why.

Graduation Day

A day passed, then a week, then a month. Before I could blink, it was graduation day. I watched as her perfect body floated like an angel up on stage to get her diploma. I wanted her to be mine, but she didn't notice me like that, and I knew it. Before everyone went home, she came to me in her smock and hat, and cried as I hugged her. Then she lifted her head from my shoulder and said, "you're my best friend, thanks" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love her but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why.

A Few Years Later

Now I sit in the pews of the church. That girl is getting married now. I watched her say "I do" and drive off to her new life, married to another man. I wanted her to be mine, but she didn`t see me like that, and I knew it. But before she drove away, she came to me and said "you came!". She said "thanks" and kissed me on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love her but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why.

Funeral

Years passed, I looked down at the coffin of a girl who used to be my "best friend". At the service, they read a diary entry she had wrote in her high school years. This is what it read:

I stare at him wishing he was mine, but he doesn't notice me like that, and I know it. I want to tell him, I want him to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love him but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why. I wish he would tell me he loved me!

I wish I did too... I thought to myself, and I cried.

I Love You

Send this to all the people that you love! Even if you don't love someone, send it to them....just to let them know that you're thinking about them!!

The Hardest Thing I Had to Say


It all started when I was 6 years old. While I was playing outside on my farm in California, I met a boy. He was an average kind of boy who teased you and then you chased them and beat them up. After that first meeting in which I beat him up we kept on meeting and beating each other up at the fence. That only lasted for a little while though. We would meet at the fence all the time and we were always together.

I would tell him all my secrets. He was very quiet; he would just listen to what I had to say. I found him easy to talk to and I could talk to him about everything. In school we had separate friends but when we got home we would always talk about what happened in school. One day I said to him that a guy I liked hurt me and broke my heart. He just comforted me and said everything would be okay. He gave me words of encouragement and helped me get over him. I was happy and thought of him as a real friend. But I knew that there was something else about him that I liked. I thought of it that night and figured it was just a friend kinda thing that I was feeling.

All through high school and even through graduation we're always together and of course I thought of it as being friends. But I knew deep inside that I really felt differently. On graduation night even though we had different dates to the prom I wanted to be with him. That night after everybody went home I went to his house and wanted to tell him that I wanted to see him. Well, that night was my big chance and all I did was just sit there with him watching the stars and talking about what I was going to do and what he was going to do. I looked into his eyes and listened to him talk about what his dream was. How he wanted to get married and settle down. He said how he wanted to be rich and successful. All I could do was to tell him my dream and cuddle next to him.

I went home hurting because I didn't tell him how I was feeling. I wanted to tell him so bad that I loved him but I was too scared and frightened. I let my feelings go and told myself that someday I would tell him just how I felt. All through college I wanted to tell him but he always had someone with him. After graduation he got a job in New York, I was happy for him but at the same time I was sad to see him go. I was sad also because I didn't tell him how I felt. But I couldn't let him know now that he was leaving for his big job. So I just kept it to myself and watched him go on the plane. I cried as I hugged him for what I felt was going to be the last time. I went home that night and cried my eyes out. I felt hurt that I didn't tell him what I had inside my heart.

Well, I got a job as a secretary and then worked my way to a computer analyst. I was proud of what I had accomplished. One day I got a letter with an invitation to a marriage. It was from him, I was happy and sad at the same time. Now I know that I could never be with him and that we could only be friends. I went to the wedding the next month. It was a big occasion. The big church wedding and the reception at the hotel. I met the bride and of course him. I fell in love one more time. But I held back so it wouldn't spoil what should be the happiest day in his life. I tried to have fun that night but it was killing me inside watching him being so happy and me trying to be happy covering up my sadness tears inside of me.

I left New York feeling that I did the right thing. Before I left on the flight, he came running out of nowhere and said his good-byes and how he was very happy to see me. I came home and just tried to forget about what went on in New York. I had to go on with my life. As the years went on, we wrote to each other on what was going on and how he had missed talking to me. On one occasion he never wrote back to me at all. I was getting worried as to why he hadn't written anything for a long time after I had already written 6 letters to him. Well, just when everything seemed hopeless and sad in my life, I got a note that said: "meet me at the fence where we used to talk about things". I went and saw him there. I was happy to see him, but he was broken-hearted and sad inside. We hugged until we couldn't breathe anymore.

Then he told me about the divorce and why he hadn't written for a long time. He cried until he couldn't cry anymore. Finally, we went back to the house and talked and laughed about what I had been going and to catch up on old times. But in all of this, I couldn't tell him how I felt about him. In the days that followed, he had fun and forgot about all his problem and his divorce. I fell in love again with him. When it came time for him to leave back to New York, I went to see him off and cried. I hated to see him leave. He promised to see me every time he could get a vacation. I couldn't wait for him to come so I could be with him. We would always have fun when we were together.


One day he didn't show up like he said he would. I figured that he might have been busy. The days turned into months and I just forgot about it. Then I got a call one day from a lawyer in New York. The lawyer said that he had died in a car accident going to the airport. And that it took this long till everything was settled. It broke my heart. I was shocked about what took place. Now I knew why he didn't come that day. Again, I was broken-hearted. I cried that night, cried tears of sadness and heartache. Asking questions why did this happen to a kind guy like him?

I gathered my things and went to New York for the reading of his will. Of course, things were given to his family and his ex-wife. I finally got to meet her since the last time we met at the wedding. She explained to me how he was and how he always provided. But he was always unhappy. She would always try everything but she couldn't get him happy, as he was that night at their wedding. When the will was read, the one thing that was given to me was a diary. It was a diary that of his life. I cried as it was given to me. I didn't know what to think. Why was this given to me? I took it and flew back to California. As I flew on the plane I remembered the good times that we had together. I started reading the diary and what was written.

The diary was started with the day we first met. I read on till I started to cry. The diary told of him saying that he had fallen in love with me that day I was broken-hearted. But he was too afraid to tell me what he had felt. That is why he was so quiet and liked to listen to me. It told of how he wanted to tell me so many times, but was too afraid to say anything. It told of when he went to New York and fell in love with another. How the happiest time he had was seeing me and dancing with me at the wedding. He said he imagined it was our wedding. How he was always unhappy till he had no choice but to divorce his wife. How the best time in his life was to read the letters written to him by me. Finally, the diary ended when it said, "today I will tell her I love her". It was the day he was killed. The day I was going to finally find out what was really in his heart.

If you love someone, don't wait till tomorrow to tell him or her. Maybe that next day will never come at all.

The Wedding Vows



"When I was six years old I met you in the playground and you came up to me with a daisy, and knelt on both knees and asked me to marry you. So I pushed you over then ran away. Two days later you came over and asked if you could play cops and robbers with me and from that day on we played everyday.

At 11, on my first day of Secondary school I was so nervous, but at lunch time you came to find me, and we sat down and ate lunch together. We did this everyday for an entire year. You were the first person I told about everything, about my crushes, about my lessons and about all the people I hated, and when I was 13 and thought I was the only one who had never been kissed, you offered to show me how, and by the tree in your backgarden we shared our first kiss.

At 15, we went to our first proper house party, and I got drunk. Even though I made a fool of myself, you were there to help me stand strong. You didn't judge and you didnt make fun.

Over the next year, we began to separate, and made different friends. I got my first serious boyfriend and you went through quite a few girlfriends. And then it got to May and that meant the prom. Everything had been arranged, I'd been getting my outfit for months and then the day before I found out my boyfriend had cheated on me. The first person I turned to was you. You turned up at my door with a bouquet of roses and a vintage 1950's car.

I laughed that night and I cried that night

We had three glorious years together, when everyday I would smile. Even on the last when your mother stood up, in the church in front of your coffin and began reading from your diary:

"I saw you when I was six standing by the bench in a blue checked dress and daisy shoes and I needed to give another daisy just because.... Becuase i loved you from that day on"

His wedding vows written the day after prom, that I will never get to hear."

Only Love



It's a cold February night. People are bustling through the streets, either pulling up their coat collars or wrapping scarves around their necks, trying to stay warm.

It's so cold today.I'm standing at my window, looking at the people moving like little dots. Standing in a heated room, I'm beginning to pity those people. Why don't they go home? Do they plan on wandering until morning?

"Almost time to go home! My boyfriend must be going crazy." One of the nurses breathe a sign of relief. "Still needs to work overtime on Valentine's Day. It's so unfair!"

"You are fortunate." Another nurse says. "Some people don't have anyone waiting for them."

"You mean Dr. Shu?"

Like Sherlock Holmes, my ears perk up when I hear my name.

"Do you remember how she lost control on this day last year?"

"Of course I do." A nurse shudders. "I've never seen Dr. Shu like that. Crying and yelling, like she was crazy."

They are talking about how I was last year. They are correct. I was out of control, like they said.

"You can't blame Dr. Shu. If my boyfriend died in front of my eyes, I would probably go crazy as well."

"Keep it down. She hasn't left work yet. She might hear you."

The two nurses are too late. I heard the entire conversation through the canvas wall.

"Dr. Shu, what are you doing standing here?"

Just as I was deciding whether or not to reveal myself, another nurse exposed me. I awkwardly step out. The 2 nurses who discussed me start to blush. Their faces became redder than the bow on Valentine's Day chocolates.

"I'm waiting to go home." I pretend that I didn't hear anything.

"Dr. Shu, you must have gotten too involved in your work. It's already past time to go home. See you tomorrow. Happy Valentine's Day!" She waves goodbye.

"Happy Valentine's Day." I wave back and watch the 2 nurses hurry away.

That's fine. I was ready to go home anyway. Even though no lover is waiting for me, at least there's a lazy cat waiting for me to feed.

After I come home, the first thing I do is feed the cat. I forgot when I first had the cat. Probably since last year's Valentine's Day. At that time, I was like an abandoned cat, with eyes filled with despair. Cats don't cry, I do. That's the only difference.

"Better drink all the milk or I'll skin you." I threatened the cat. Her name is Christine, my least favorite English name. I don't know why I named the cat Christine. Christine meowed once to let me know she heard me, but her eyes are complaining about my severity. Her eyes remind me of someone I used to know, standing in front of me with eyes of rebellions.

An year ago today, I had lunch with my boyfriend and took the opportunity to complain to him.

"Today is Valentine's Day. Why didn't you give me any flowers?"

He raised his eyebrow. "Why should I give you flowers? You are not my anyone."

"Then... you should at least give me a card!" I pouted my lips, hurt by his tone.

"I know, I know. After lunch, I'll send you an e-card."

E-card. That sounds so impersonal, but that's the way he is. "You have to e-mail it to me. I'll be waiting." I excitedly smiled and planned to sneak home after lunch to check e-mail. Even though he wouldn't use any romantic words, I still looked forward to the card.

"I can't stand you women. Why do you make such a big deal out of Valentine's Day?" He grumbled while eating his food. His comment induced me to fight with him again.

"You are not romantic at all!! Don't you watch any Japanese drama?"

"Japanese drama? I only watch Discovery Channel."

"Your life is so boring." I made a face at him. "One recent drama was really good. You should have watched it."

"What's that drama called?" He didn't believe in the love portrayed in TV and movies. He always thought they were lies.

"It's called 'Story of A Century'." I gladly answered.

"What kind of trashy plot did it have?"

"What do you mean trash? Show some respect!" I was so angry. "That drama was very touching, and the theme song was beautiful as well. It's called 'Only Love', performed by Nana Mouskouri." I wonder if he knew who Nana was.

"Nana, I know her. A Greek singer with really expensive albums."

"Her voice is worth it." Even though I secretly agreed with him, I couldn't bring myself to admit it.

"Whatever." He glanced at his watch. "I'll give you 5 minutes to tell me the plot. After that, I'm leaving."

I tried hard to explain 6 hours worth of story in just 5 minutes. The drama portrayed the love stories of 3 generations of women spanning 100 years, from 1901 to 2000. Each generation was portrayed by the same actress. The story was tear-jerking.

"What's so touching about it?" He asked, after listening to the story.

"Don't you think each generation's story is wonderful? If I have such great screen writing ability, I wouldn't be a doctor anymore. I would become a screenwriter."

"If you become a screenwriter, I bet no one would watch the show. The TV station can go out of business." He quickly interjected.

"I'm going back to work. Hurry and send me the card!" I was so mad that I went home immediately, not even finishing my coffee.

As soon as I walked in my door, I turned on my computer and go online.

Staring at the empty in-box, I began to reminisce about how we met. Maybe no one will believe me, but my boyfriend and I were actually neighbors. Our homes were only 1 wall away. Ever since we were kids, we liked to fight with each other all day long. I still remember when I moved to the country that year. Used to the city life, I couldn't get used to the simple life in the country. After school, I would just go home and do nothing. Whenever that happened, he would always come over to tease me.

"Why are you staring off into space??" He loved to pull on my hair. "You're so ugly when you're doing nothing. But you're also not pretty when you smile." In other words, I'm really ugly.

"You're the one who's ugly!" I pull back my hair. "If you think I'm so ugly, why do you visit me??"

"Can't help it. My home is right next to your home." He argued.

"Then I'll move!" The next day, I drew a line in the ground using some white chalk. A line that I forbid him to cross.

That year, we were both in the 5th grade. We couldn't stand each other and hoped the other would move away. But 5 years passed, and neither of us moved. Not only that, we got into the same high school and into the same class.

"You're that infamous couple." All the students and teachers in the school would say whenever they saw us.

"We're not!" I always tried to explain. "We're only neighbors." At that time, I hated my parents for making us live next to him.

"My standard is not that low." He would say. "Who wants her to be a girlfriend? It's not like I don't have eyes."

"Yes, I know your eyes are on top of your head." I really disliked him. "Better than having eyes on the bottom of my head like you." He implied that I couldn't judge guys. At that time, I had a crush on a senior.

I didn't think that his sarcasm had a hidden meaning. After a while, I found out that the senior student had lots of girlfriends. When I cried about it, he silently passed me a handkerchief and awkwardly held me in his arms.

"I told you he wasn't any good." He roughly comforted me. I cried in his arms the whole night, and began to see him in a different way. Things began to change between us. We still fought all the time, but he started to look at me differently. And I blushed and my heart beat faster when he was near. We both knew: we fell in love with each other.

Even with this knowledge, neither of us said anything. Even though we would not be able to resist and kissed each other constantly. Even though we cared about each other's every moves. Both of us refused to admit our love.

Time flew by quickly, and it was time to face separation. I chose to study medicine, and he chose physics. Yet we still couldn't separate from each other. Our parents worried that we didn't know anyone in Taipei, so they forced us to live in the same apartment building. Once again, we became neighbors. We still fought, but sometimes we fought into the bedroom. Alright, we became lovers, but we still wouldn't say we loved each other. We didn't even spend Valentine's Day together until he saw me share dinner with a man one Valentine's Day. That night, he waited for me in front of my door and said that he would take me out to dinner on Valentine's Day from then on. I have to say that he was very arrogant. But I nodded and accepted his request. Since then, we spent every Valentine's Day together. After graduation, I became an intern. He started a small computer company with some friends and became a programmer. We were busy with our own lives and had no time for a relationship. Three years later, I became a doctor, and his business began to boom. We separately moved to bigger apartments and stopped being neighbors. On the surface, we left each other. In reality, we were still together. We spent every Valentine's Day together but each year became more dreary than the next because he never told me he loved me even with all my hints.

Facing the empty in-box, I suddenly grew very angry. He wouldn't say it and wouldn't send me a card. What did he mean? Who did he think I was? I called his cell phone.

"Hello." He picked up the phone.

"I didn't receive the card." I immediately showed my displeasure.

"You didn't receive it?" He seemed really busy. "But I sent it."

He was really busy but I didn't care. "I didn't receive it. Send it again."

"Okay, I'll send you 100 times. Is that good enough?" He said with impatience. His tone further infuriated me. Is that how lovers speak to each other?

"Don't bother sending it to me. And you don't have to pick me up tonight.

I'll eat dinner by myself."

"Don't be childish, ok? I'm really busy."

"I AM childish!" I hung up the phone and tears rolled down my cheeks.

Childish? Why didn't he consider the situation? We've gone out for so many years and spent countless Valentine's Day together. I never received any flowers nor cards from him. Now, I just want a little e-card. Is that too much to ask for?

I unplugged the phone from the wall and turned off my cell phone. I didn't want to hear his explanations. After I returned to the hospital, I instructed the receptionist not to forward me any phone calls. I wanted to concentrate on work.

Because there were so many emergencies today, I was sweating 1 hour later and forgot about our argument.

"Dr. Shu, please take a look at that patient."

As I was collecting my equipment, the shrill sound of an ambulance sounded outside the ER. When I stepped out the door, the emergency medics hurriedly wheeled in a gurney.

"What happened to him?" I asked the 1st medic. Everyone else were trying to help put the patient on the gurney. He was covered with blood.


"Car accident." The medic replied. "Very serious. He may die."

I nodded and ran to the operating room with them. When I arrived, the nurses told me that the man had already stopped breathing and also his heartbeat also stopped

"Prepare for shock." I calmly instructed the nurses. Saving people is our duty. We can't lose our calm.

But when I saw who laid on the operating table, I lost my calm. That person was my boyfriend!

"No..." I stood in shock. "NO!!!" I grabbed the paddles and continuously shocked his body. His body bounced up and down from the shocks. The scared nurses went to find another doctor, to tell him that I was crazy.

I didn't know if I was crazy or not. I just wanted to save my lover. Even though we fought all the time. Even though he never showed me his love. I still wanted to save him. He still owed me a card. He couldn't die! I threw away the paddles and began to press on his heart. I pressed with all my strength, hoping it would revive him, but he didn't wake up. He didn't even say "It hurts". He just laid there with his eyes closed, punishing me with his silence.

Dr. Jian angrily pushed me away. By that time, I couldn't see clearly anymore. I cried. I wailed. I bowled until no sounds could come out of my mouth.

"It's too late, Dr. Shu. He's already dead. I'm sorry." Dr. Jian patted me on the shoulder. They knew each other and ate together once. I introduced them.

"He can't die." I shook my head. "He can't die!!" I struggled to run to him.

"Dr. Shu, control yourself!" Dr. Jian slapped me. "I understand what you're going through, but you're a doctor."

Yes, I'm a doctor, but I'm also a regular person. How can Dr. Jian understand how I feel? I've loved him for so many years that it's become a habit. How can I just throw away a habit? Besides, he still owed me a card. "I want him to live! I want him to live!" I ran to him again and tried to knock the life back into his body.

"Take her away!" That day, I lost my control and my professionalism.

And that day happened to be Valentine's Day.

Afterwards, I asked his co-workers why he left work early that day.

They told me that after I hung up the phone, he tried to call me several times but couldn't reach me. Worried, he drove to the hospital to find me and got hit by a large truck on the way.

When I heard this, I froze. My tantrum killed him. Just because of an unmailed card, he died. After that, I lost my privilege to be childish.

Like an abandoned cat, I couldn't even cry anymore. After his death, I couldn't cry anymore, regardless of how touching the plot or how tear-jerking the dialogue. They didn't affect me anymore.

Now, I'm only left with a cat and a seldomly used computer. Stepping over the cat, I turned on the computer. Even though I know no one will send me a mail, I still hoped that someone will remember me on this day.

Meow, meow. I looked at Christine to see what's wrong. She finished her milk. I went into the kitchen to get her more milk then came back to look at the computer screen.

I have.... 100 emails! Who would be bored enough to send me 100 junk mail?

I was just about to delete them all when I received another mail, and this one said: "Because of system error, we could not send these until today.

We apologize for the delay." The sender was my ISP.

I looked at the 1st mail. It showed the send date is last year's Valentine's Day. My heart began to beat fast. Could he have sent these?

With a trembling hand, I opened the mail. The first thing that popped up was a gorgeous red rose set against green leaves. Then a beautiful melody began to play.... "Only Love". I couldn't believe it. The rose was so beautiful and the music was so dreamy. I almost thought I was in a fantasy. Most touching of all were the words underneath the rose, because the words read like a beautiful poem.

"Hwei."

That's my name.

"Knowing you so many years, I've never sent you any flowers. Today I send you a rose."

I received it and it's so beautiful.

"You know we are always fighting. We can never really open our hearts and tell each other how we feel."

Yes, but it's all your fault for being so distant.

"I know I always make you mad by the things I say."

Good that you're admitting it.

"But today I want to say to you: I'm sorry, and I love you."

I waited so many years for those words.

"And I want to tell you a good news. I finally saved enough money."

You already have enough money. Why did you need so much?

"So Hwei, let's get married!! I was afraid to propose to you, because I didn't trust in my ability to give you the good life you deserve. But now I've saved enough money so we don't have to wait anymore."

Who wanted you to wait? I'm already yours.

"Today, I use this card to propose to you. Will you marry me, Hwei? Will you?"

That's the content of the whole card. Like a fool, I kept reading his words and talking to him. It's like I can hear his voice and see him again.

As if it's back to 1 year ago with us constantly fighting.

The song played over and over. Repeating Nana's heartbreaking voice.

Only love can make a memory. Only love can make a moment last. You were there and all the world was young and all it's songs unsung. and I remember you then when love was all, all you were living for, and how you gave that love to me...."

The lyrics of this song fits our love so closely. When he was alive, my world was so young. Every day, I could find a something different to fight with him about. But after he left, my life is only left with memories and coldness that will never go away.

"Will you marry me?"

When I read these words, my tears unconsciously came, wetting the keyboard.

Will I? If he's in front of me, I will definitely kick him and call him a big fool. If I wasn't willing, I wouldn't have waited until today.

So I moved the cursor over the "Reply" box, and typed the response that I've already prepared for so many years - "I will."


I will - be by his side for the rest of my life. I will - fight with him forever. That is how I answered him, but the only response I got was the repeating song "Only Love."

Nevertheless, I opened every single letter, accepted every singled rose, and typed the same response: "I will."

I replied 100 times, and "Only Love" played 100 times. In this cold Valentine's night, the line that's been broken for 1 year finally got reconnected.

I answered you. What about you?