[During a conversation about ripples last week, I recalled this story.]
Back in 1990, I had the opportunity to volunteer with Mother Teresa.
I took a training in health issues around caretaking. I was helping the Sisters there give medicine to these dying women. And some of them had very intense medical issues. I mean, I'd never seen people with those medical issues.
I had organized all the medicines, and I was given clear instructions. I made sure I read all the directions in how to use these medicines, how to apply them, and all of that.
So there I was, and I was very proud of myself -- first of all, for not making a disgusted face when interfacing with the patients -- because some of the illnesses I was seeing were really new to me.
Then, I was about being efficient. I had all my things very well-organized, and I was taking care of what I thought my job was.
Then comes this old lady who had all kinds of sores and things on her head and everywhere. I thought I knew exactly what she needed. I had the medicines right in front of me. And there she was, not wanting me to put anything on her!
There was a line of people waiting for me to take care of them. So I found myself in this situation where I did not know what to do. I mean, I had the medicine that I was ready to put on her, but she wasn't allowing me to administer the medicine.
I became very anxious. I was like, "Let me do it, okay? Let me do it. Stay there, and I'm going to put the medicine on you. And you be good."
Of course, I was going through all these things in my head like, "What am I doing here? Who is she, this lady?"
I didn't know. I wanted to tell her, "Okay, you don't want your medicine? Then you go back to where you were, because I have to put the medicine on these other people."
Then, like a little girl, she took one blue bottle that I had on the table. She wanted to self-apply that blue medicine on herself.
I was like, "I cannot allow this to happen!" Right?
So I go to the nuns: "Sister! Sister! She's stealing my blue medicine! She wants to run away with my blue medicine! I cannot allow her to do that."
The Sister came closer to me, and she said, "You know what? She wants the blue medicine -- so give her the blue medicine. Do it with all your love. Love is what is going to heal her. Love is what she needs right now. The medicine doesn't matter right now. These people are close to death, right?"
Then, there I was, thinking, "My God! Sylvia, you have no idea what you came here to do."
Many times, I find myself in a trying situation in my life -- especially with my kids. Now my 19 year-old daughter decided she's gonna move in with her boyfriend. And I am like, "What?!"
Of course, I feel like saying, "No way, you're not going to do that!"
But I know she's gonna do it anyway. So it's like the medicine. Right? She's taking the blue medicine away from me.
So, my love is what she needs right now. She's already made up her decision. She's going to do it. And all I want is for her to know that no matter how it goes for her, she's got my support, at this time, to move in with him (and later on, to move out, or to move somewhere else or whatever).
But that my love and support for her is there.
So that situation in my life had supported me many times, during hard times, you know, because this one is a very hard one for me to let go. My daughter, my 19 year-old baby, who's going to move in with a 26 year-old man. But it's not only that. It's when I don't know when the situation is too big, I go:
"Okay, Sylvia. It's just love. That's all that you can put out."