This Inspirational Moment brought to you by Alan Villatuya from San Jose, CA.
What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to go through in your life?
Like most people who’ve lived more than a handful of years, I’ve had many life experiences, both good and bad, that have shaped me into the man I am today. Through it all, I always try and find something I can learn from in any experience I go through. I strive to find some meaning in what is happening to me. In doing so, I focus on the positivity to get me through my worst days. Yet, there was something that happened, not even to me, but to my younger sister, that took years to find anything positive from the experience.
As the oldest child of two kids, my parents taught me that my role was to watch out for my sister; to protect her and do everything I can to keep her from harm. I’d like to think of myself as a good big brother, but like all brothers, sometimes I just had to sit on her to take the TV remote or tie her jump rope from her door knob to the bathroom door so she couldn’t open it. Yes, there were those moments, but regardless, I took my role as her big brother very seriously. I protected her from boys and crazy friends and stood by her when she needed me most.
Since she was only two years younger than me, she was always with me. She played basketball with my friends and me, and we would have adventures with all of our cousins who lived in the same neighborhood as us. Like all kids, sometimes we’d be a bit mischievous, to put it mildly, and get in trouble. Getting into trouble meant consequences and therefore, punishments which, more often than not, meant getting spanked. I soon realized that I hated seeing my sister get spanked and seeing her cry. It hurt me as well. Eventually, I’d just take the blame for both of us, so she wouldn’t have to get in trouble.
When we moved away from the neighborhood we grew up in, I became a bit withdrawn. I hated being away from all my friends and family. Many times our roles would reverse and she’d be more of a big sister to me; offering advice, someone to bounce ideas around off of, or just listen to me vent my frustrations to. I even called her my “big, little sister” sometimes, as she watched over me and protected me from time to time as well. We’ve grown to know each other pretty well, and though I hate the idea of having a “best” friend, because I try and treat all my close friends equally, she would easily win that title.
As we grew up and went away to college, we always remained close and protective of each other. Years later, she called me with some news. She was pregnant, and she’d wanted children for some time. At that point, she had moved back up north and was at a crossroads in her relationship and education. She moved back down south where found out she was having twins.
After a grueling 36 weeks of pregnancy, the twins would soon be joining our loving family. On the day before their delivery, their physician wanted to do an amniocentesis to test the twins’ lungs. The risk was that it may cause contractions. After the procedure, my sister felt some of the contractions and asked to see their physician, but the doctors and nurses reassured her that everything was fine and sent her home.
The next day is one I don’t like thinking about anymore. To this day, I don’t like recalling the call I got and really don’t like reliving that experience. Just know I rushed down to Los Angeles to be with my sister and our family.
Through a series of miscommunication and unfortunate events, my sister lost the twins. I recall just being in a daze when I reached the hospital later that day. I didn’t know what to do… and I felt like I failed my little sister. I would have done anything to protect her and the twins. I’ve never felt more powerless in my whole life.
There was this cloud hanging over me… I didn’t even know what to do. I felt extremely lost, and I couldn’t even imagine what my sister and brother in law were going through. I wanted the whole experience to be a dream, and for me to just wake up and realize that this whole day never happened.
This was easily the most difficult thing that my family and I have ever experienced.
What did you learn from it that you could pass on to someone else?
I’ll admit, while in the moment, I thought to myself, “Why the hell is this happening?” It plagued me as suddenly, my usual way of searching for lessons and positivity, turned into me constantly asking myself, “What could I possibly learn from this?”
You may not see the lessons being learned or find the silver lining as it is happening, but they are there. They say, time heals all wounds, but it’s not just time. It may take years, but you need to eventually learn to open up your heart, eyes, and mind to what was there and view it from an outside perspective. You cannot live in just that moment, or you will never recover.
Eventually, enough time had passed where I can look at the experience from an outside perspective. As awful an experience as this was for our family, it forever tied my sister and my brother-in-law together. It made their love and trust to each other stronger than ever. Our family also saw how much my brother-in-law took care of my sister. I can also be thankful for how close my family and my brother in law’s family have become. And as much as I wish I could’ve watched the twins grow up, the loss taught us to trust each other more and open our hearts to additional family members, such as our adopted nephew Jona.
Though the twins were only with us for a short time, they forever changed all of our lives… and to this day, I know they’ve blessed our family from afar and keep watching over us. Which leads to one of the happiest moments of my life…
What has been the Happiest Moment of your life?
After the twins passed away, my sister had a dream where the boys told her she’d be okay. They then went to play with a little girl in the dream. When we talked later that day, she felt it was a sign that her next kid would be a girl.
For our family, November 24th loomed over us every year as a dark cloud. Thanksgiving wasn’t such a pleasant holiday anymore. But 4 years later, to our delight, my sister was pregnant again. My sister had a difficult pregnancy. She had placenta previa and was put on bed rest only after 4 months. She couldn’t really be too active, but it was all to keep the baby safe.
To say we were worried about my sister and the upcoming baby is putting it mildly. The end of the 9 months was approaching quickly and we were looking forward to the upcoming birth. On the exact date the twins passed away, our niece Gabby was born. November 24th became a day of celebration, and not one of mourning. It’s like the twins wanted to make sure we could all enjoy the day again.
What is your Passion?
There are passions that drive me every day and there are my personal passions. Personally, I am passionate about art, in every form. Writing, painting, and photography can keep my mind busy for hours. I love visiting museums and getting inspired by everything around me. I can spend a whole day at an art museum or used book store, and just as long, if not longer in a comic book and toy store. I love how words and images can be so powerful, but also peaceful, engaging, and relaxing.
History is a great passion of mine as well. A good way to become a good person is to learn about your family history, ethnic origin, and the history of the United States. By learning what came before you, you can ensure you don’t repeat past mistakes. So many people are blinded by the present and forget to look at the past for answers to what to do and not to do.
What inspires you?
My family, friends, and co-workers inspire me. Those around me have the biggest influence on me and I am happily surrounded by some really amazing people.
What is your favorite Inspirational Quote?
My favorite inspirational quote comes from the wise words of a meerkat and warthog. As Timon and Pumbaa sing, “Hakuna Matata! It’s a wonderful phrase that means no worries for the rest of our days.” I try and live in the moment and stress less. Who knew two cartoon characters could be so wise and inspirational!
How do you try to inspire others?
I’m not sure how inspiring I am to others, but every day, I try my best to be a good person…a good son, a good brother, a good cousin, a good uncle, a good friend, and a good co-worker. I try and live by the golden rule of treating others as I would like to be treated. As an older sibling, I wanted to be someone my younger sister and cousins could look up to. Later I realized that by being a good person, you may not inspire or influence others, but you’ll be personally happy yourself. In turn, those around you may be infected with your own happiness. So I try and stay happy, smile, and lighten the mood wherever I can.
I also love to volunteer and give back to my community. When you give some of yourself, you actually get way more in return. I could share countless stories of my time in New Orleans, where I was lucky enough to volunteer for a week for five years in a row. Those I helped inspire me every day to work harder and appreciated what I have. My hope is my renewed and refreshed energy would inspire others to give back to their community and appreciate what they have as well.
One non-profit you support?
In college, I was part of the first international Asian fraternity, and our national philanthropy we sponsored was the Asian American Donor Program. Each year, over 12,000 patients get diagnosed with blood cancer and need a bone marrow transplant. The best match for a transplant is someone in their own ethnicity. Currently, Asian minority groups comprise the smallest percentage of people registered in the national bone marrow registry. The more people that register, the better the chance someone can find a match. For more information, please visit www.aadp.org
What is one easy thing you can do to change the world for good in the next 24 hours?
Everyone’s time is a gift, and I try and make my time with everyone I am with a good time. I will stay present in the moment, and make it fun. I’ll do my best to bring smiles to my friends and family and make them laugh.
This picture makes me feel HAPPY!
This picture makes me feel BEAUTIFUL!