Wearing The Cochlear Through A Time of Tragedy

On September 21st, 2017, I lost my father suddenly. My whole world collapsed, and I was lost at words for several weeks. The feelings I’ve felt in the past couple months have been so new and indescribable. All through these trying times,  I’ve not only have been blessed with the love and support of families and friends, but my Cochlear has also emerged unexpectedly as a pillar.

My Dad On The Day of Cochlear Surgery

On the day of the Cochlear implant surgery, back in February 2016, I’ll never forget my father and mother being there at 6 am in the UPenn hospital waiting room. He would slip all the cheesy dad puns about “hearing” how much of a big deal the surgery is and what a big day it’s going to be. He was there when I woke up from the surgery and asked the most ridiculous question on whether I could hear better already (I couldn’t yet, obviously). I’ll never forget when my Dad helped me walk to the car and I turned to him, looked him in the eye and told him how grateful I am to have him there to open a new chapter in my life. He squeezed my arm and held back some tears. One year later, I was visiting him in the Poconos, with a few friends, and he took a special toast one night at dinner for the one year anniversary of having my Cochlear implant. I don’t know where I would be today without my Dad. Growing up with all of the life struggles of being a hearing impaired kid in a hearing world, he taught me countless lessons of perseverance to become the man that I am today. Pictured below is my dad and I posing, moments before the Cochlear surgery commenced (Notice the awkward Dad pose). It’s precious memories like these that help me keep moving forward.

Cochlear

The Moment When The Cochlear Lifted Me Up

On the Friday night after my Dad passed away, my brother, his fiancé and I arrived at his house in the Poconos to be with his side of the family. We all gathered at the table with some wine and poured over some old photos and documents that my Dad has collected throughout his life. At one point, I couldn’t help myself but pull away from the group to walk around the house. I was half looking for him, half reflecting on the memories I’ve had with him in that house. I was hoping that those past couple days would be some sick joke and that he would pop out of somewhere and surprise me. I found myself walking around the outside deck and stopped at the American flag hanging about, lit up by a flood light. Then suddenly, this overwhelming sadness came over me, and I fell down to the nearest chair and sobbed. I couldn’t stop crying if I tried. After a while, I started to take note of my surroundings. It was still warm and humid outside, so there were still the usual summer insects out such as mosquitoes and fireflies. Thanks to minimal light pollution, there were many stars in the sky watching over me and the smell of pines coming from the trees all around the house. Then I started to realize what I’ve been listening to the whole time I was sitting: a countless number of crickets chirping not so softly into the night. Then, I noticed that I was only hearing them with my Cochlear. My hearing aid on my left side was not picking up any of the high pitched sounds the crickets were orchestrating. Right then and there, at that moment, I was finally able to get a hold of my emotions. My crying came to a stop, and I was able to take few deep breaths. I discerned that if these crickets are still going forward with life then so can I. The rest of the universe is still in motion even when my own world shattered into pieces. I felt my Dad’s presence on that deck, telling my heart to soldier on. It was thanks to the Cochlear that I was able to have that connection with nature in a very dark place in my life. I was able to muster up some strengths that night and went into the hardest week of my life.

Marching From Moments To Moments

To this day, I have been able to depend on sound in this kind of moments. This even goes for music and social interactions. With the Cochlear, I’ve been granted the ability to fundamentally grasp all of the significant elements that life has to offer. Whether it’s crickets, a sad song, Bruce Springsteen, or a pure flood of laughers in a room full of loved ones. Sounds has a funny way of helping us all process this whole “life” thing we have. It’s times like this that makes me grateful for the decision to receive the Cochlear implant. A close friend of mine has a favorite saying, “Always march to your own beat.” Life is all about striving through whatever chaos is thrown at you. Just like when I sat down beside that American flag, things as small as crickets can push us to keep marching. Despite being hearing impaired, it is through the CI that I’ve been able to trace my own beat and follow it through the ups and downs of life.

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