Saturday, August 8, 2015

One Year Ago, I met a Young Couple Through Airbnb

One Year Ago, a chinese man in his mid twenties sent me a reservation request in the middle of the night for him to come and stay that evening at my house.  I typically don't answer requests in the middle of the night while I am sleeping, but for some reason, the ping of my phone woke me up. He had no picture on his profile.

Typically, I would be suspicious of this type of request and ask several more questions before I would even approve the stay. I asked him for a picture and he said he was boarding the plan and couldn't do it. He explained that he was taking the red eye flight from California to be with his girlfriend.

My instincts told me to just approve it.

He walked into my home around 6pm as I recall, carrying just a backpack. His English was pretty good. He seemed a bit shaken and definitely distracted. I asked him if there was something I could do for him and he said "my girlfriend is sick." I look at his face and said, well, I am in the healthcare business, how can I help? Can I get you to a doctor? He proceeded to show me the list of doctors that the University gave his girlfriend.

The were abortion doctors.

A bit stunned and not really knowing how to handle the situation, I remained quiet and said a silent prayer asking God to help me with this. And so, I did what makes everyone feel better - I asked him if he was hungry!

We proceeded to cook together and ironically enough, I was making stir fry that night! He proceeded to talk with me as he so expertly chopped up vegetables in record time!

We ate together and he asked me if he could bring his girlfriend back to stay with him. "Of course", I said.

And this beautiful, young chinese woman walks in my door not an hour later, with a gift to thank me for talking with her boyfriend. I graciously accepted her gift, not really feeling like I did anything to help them.

Their overnight stay turned into a week. I helped them locate a physician who could talk with them about options and they were scheduled to go the next Monday.

Well, life decided it wasn't going to wait until Monday and they were in the Emergency Room on Sunday.
The diagnosis was an ectopic pregnancy.  They text me the news and I knew that the best thing I could do for them was to love them up and tell them that God had other plans for them and perhaps this was a blessing.

They ended up staying another week so she could rest and  be seen again to ensure the medications the doctors gave her were working.

They didn't work and she was given more medication.

I watched over her closely and ensured she was comfortable and safe. As the days went on, my heart grew closer and closer to hers. So scary to be thousands of miles from home and have such a dramatic thing happen to you as a young woman! I stayed at home each night after work, so that I could support them both through this journey. There was no way , I was going to leave them to deal with this alone!

This young man stood by her side the entire time. He never let her out of his sight for too long and if he did have to leave, he made sure I was there as backup.

He fed her, made sure she was warm and catered to her every need. It was really quite beautiful to witness.

She appeared to be doing ok but slept quite a bit and said her stomach felt funny. She really didn't complain about anything.

Another week went by and the day of her follow up appointment, her boyfriend had to go back to California for school and she was going alone.

I didn't hear from her for hours. I was concerned. Finally, she called me right before I was ready to get on the highway to go home.  Something was wrong and they were sending her to the Emergency Room.

I turned around and was there in 10 minutes. I see her laying on a hospital guerney and she tells me they are taking her to surgery? What? 

I talked with the doctor to get a more clear explanation of what was occurring. They needed to go in, something wasn't right. 

I looked at this beautiful girl and I explained to her what was happening as best I could. And I had to explain to her that perhaps she would no longer have the function of one of her tubes.

I wanted to cry. I know how she felt. I only had one tube as well due to a situation that occurred when I was young as well. I felt that life had just gone full circle. Had I gone through that experience so I could be the one here for her? I don't know. All I knew was that I would not leave her side until I knew she was safe.

Her boyfriend text me all through the evening. The clock ticked for what seemed like hours. At 11:00pm, the doctor came out looking for me. He looked perplexed. I was not chinese. How is it that I was the one he was to talk with? I laughed to myself and thought, "I'm an Airbnb host"

He said it was a good thing she was here. She had started bleeding internally, her tube had ruptured.

I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer of gratitude to God.  I thanked the doctor and walked down the hallway to see her. As I walked down the silent hallway with only the sounds of my shoes on the floor, I heard this beautiful girl call out my name and that she was happy I stayed with her.

I was holding the tears back for sure. I didn't want her to see me cry. I knew that God's hand was in all of this. I turned the corner to see her wrapped like a doll, with hints of her black hair barely showing and her eyes barely open.

She looked precious, fragile and so sweet. I held her hand and told her that I loved her and that everything was ok.

I picked her up the next day and she began her recovery at my house. Her boyfriend flew back to Buffalo the next day and the three of us spent the next ten days together.

It was a wonderful time of healing, sharing food and getting to know each other. They were now part of my family in every way. They shared so many parts of their culture with me and I with them. I had bought her some new pajamas and a bathrobe when she was in the hospital and one morning she comes out with them on and her boyfriend shot a picture of the two of us. I looked at the picture and knew that God had brought me a daughter. Even as I write this, I cry because my heart is overflowing with love.

The day came that she was fully healed and ready to begin her life again. Her boyfriend secured an apartment for them to live for the next few months while she finished the semester.

As they were loading their bags into the car, she cried in the bedroom and I cried in the kitchen.

Her boyfriend didn't know what to do with the two of us. Off they went and I cried myself to sleep that night. It was heartbreaking to let her go!

Fast forward a few months and we carved pumpkins together with another Airbnb guests daughter and her boyfriend and danced in my living room to some crazy Xbox type game. It was really fun!

They ended up going back to China for the Holidays and they announced to me that they would be returning to the United States and moving to California.

My heart felt pangs of sadness. I knew my time with them was probably going to be few and far between.

They started their schooling in California and it ended up to be a great decision for them.

Three weeks ago, they called me. "Kim, we are getting married!"

What? Really? Unfortunately , it happened to be a week after I was returning from the Dominican Republic.

The great news is, I could watch them get married over the Internet! Who knew! Technology is quite amazing!

Today, they were married at 6:00pm in Las Vegas and I sat at my computer and watched the two of them exchange their vows.

Did I cry? Oh yes! I cried for so many reasons.  One, for them and their future. Two, for how far they had come in one year and three, because I was able to share this moment with them, even though I was thousands of miles away.

Does the Internet replace the real thing? No, but I didn't miss this very special moment in their life.

All because I decided one day to become an Airbnb host, three years ago. My life has never been the same, and I am so very grateful for that!

Congratulations my dear friends who are part of my family! I love you both so much!

Image result for wedding bells

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Heat of the Dominican Republic

Image result for the dominican republic people

I just returned from a week's vacation in the Dominican Republic and I already want to go back! I must confess that I was hesitant to go, worried about my one of my businesses running smoothly while I was gone and knowing that I had a boatload of writing and work to do to get my other businesses up and going.

I stressed about it for weeks before and did some last minute "bullet shopping" as I call it, to get my summer wardrobe up-to-date! In fact, I just threw things in the suitcase with tags on them and said to myself , "ready or not, I'm going!."

The vacation was actually for a Destination Wedding for one of my best friends that had been scheduled months in advance. It felt like my girlfriends had to keep pulling the rope to keep me mindful that we were going away, to get my passport renewed and to remember when we were leaving.

I am so grateful to them for doing that! Because after the first day of getting over the plane ride and my ears finally starting to open up, I could hear the language of the native people. Spanish, a language I had taken in high school and hadn't used too much since then. It started to come back to me the more the resort staff spoke to me and I listened.  As I looked into their eyes, for some reason the vocabulary started to come to the forefront of my mind. I soon felt a strange sense of belonging, the more I communicated with them.

As I settled in and felt comfortable, grabbing my bikini, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses each morning, I walked out into the heat of the island. At first it felt really warm, almost two warm. I wondered how the native people could stand being in it day after day. As I sat on the beach with my friends, I needed to get into the water almost every hour, it was so hot.  I grabbed the 45 sunscreen and slathered it all over my Irish,white skin.  I was determined to enjoy the ocean and the sun without burning my skin!

Well, as always happens when I am near the ocean, I soon became that little girl at 13, who loved the saltiness of the water and the sand between my toes and I forget about the heat of the sun!

I soaked up the beauty of the different blues and greens of the ocean as the sun danced over it for hours on end. I closed my eyes and listened to the spanish/latin music playing in the background . How could life get any better than what I was experiencing at that very moment?

At 4:00pm everyday, there were dance lessons right on the beach! And life got even better! I jumped right in and watched the Activity Supervisor teach us the Merengue and the Bachata. I could have just stayed there and watched him! Hahaha! He was so good! I guess I would be too if I taught dance lessons everyday.

Suddenly, the heat didn't seem to matter as I got lost in the music and fun of dancing in the sand!

We stopped dancing on the beach at 5:00 to enjoy another hour or so in the sun at the pool before we chose a particular restaurant to dine in for dinner. There were several to choose from and each delicious in their own way. Doning the bathing suit for a nice, summer dress, we thought there would be a reprieve to the heat and the restaurants would be air conditioned. Well, supposedly they were but it didn't feel too cold to me. I suppose it's hard to keep things really cool, when you are so near the equator. Dinner ended and we were off to dance once again in the lobby.  Only this time it would be for several hours!

Immediately on walking out of the restaurant, the heat and humidity of the night air hit us! But  the music of the Dominican awaited!  The entertainment staff was there to greet us in the open-air lobby with a live band. The staff danced with us, teaching us and showing their amazing talent for latin dancing! Before long, the dance floor was full of guests, young and old dancing the Merengue, the Bachata, and the Salsa. The heat intensified as the energy of our bodies and the joy filled the room.  I had never sweat so much in my life! But it didn't stop me as I was so happy to be in the moment with everyone. There was just something about being in the heat of the island, dancing, smiling and enjoying the energy! I guzzled more bottles of water in 4 hours than I had in four days at home! But I was happy and smiling.

My girlfriends and I practiced the same routine, day after day. The beach during the day , dinner and dancing at night. I couldn't have been happier! I slathered that sunscreen on but despite my efforts, I ended up with a beet red tummy and a bit of Rudolph nose. It didn't bother me, the last day I was determined to spend a few more hours in the sun and talk to the friends I had made while there. I was sad to be leaving the Dominican.

I had become more accustomed to speaking Spanish and I was getting used to the heat. I now understood what the staff told me when they said that they are used to it.

There is magic in the heat of the sun and the energy of their dance in the Dominican.

 I continue to hear their music in my head and I find myself stopping midway through my daily chores dancing the Merenque.

We awaited our flight to Charlotte and I decided to go buy a magazine to pass the time. The Dominican clerk looks at me as I talked with him in Spanish and he said " you have been here many times, yes?" I smiled and said , "No, this is my first." and his reply: "you will be back!"

And he is right - I will be back to enjoy the heat and energy of the Dominican Republic.