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The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? (650 word limit)
My grandmother passed away
The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
In the past, whenever hearing someone had been through a loss, I thought I had understood what they were going through. But I was wrong. I honestly had no idea what it felt like until I lost my grandmother to Leukemia. Memories of her replay through my mind.
"Well, it cannot be a '2' there, so it has to go in this row... but which square?
"But that doesn't matter because '2' has to go in this column of this box anyhow so '7' goes underneath!
"Yes, a chain reaction!"
It is not uncommon for such snippets to be uttered with excitement in Waipo's (grandmother's) apartment in China. A pot of green tea and honey has been always present to make sure that Waipo and I are nourished in the heat of the moment. Equipped with two erasers and two pencils on the battlefield of her kitchen table, Sudoku is our war.
Waipo brought me into the world of Sudoku when I was six. Watching her gaze intently at a few random numbers in boxes in her study, I desired an explanation. She spoke of patterns and reasoning, and how everything I would ever need was right in front of me. That evening, Waipo bought me my first Sudoku puzzle book. Working through the puzzles with me, she revealed new ways of approaching problems and completing patterns. The release that came from deriving unity and order from chaos piqued my passion.
We both enjoyed Sudoku because in a hectic, fast-paced world, Sudoku demanded the opposite-patience. I later realized patience beat strength when tackling harder issues. Another one of life's treasured secrets that can be applied to Sudoku is the art of taking appropriate risks and knowing that we will make mistakes. I learned the concept of teamwork when both of us were stuck, it helped to see the problem in a different light, and we would mull over a puzzle together, persistently armed with a No. 2 pencil and steaming teapot of cha (tea). I developed strong bonds and great wisdom through our adventures in a simple grid of numbers.
Waipo's death from Leukemia last November came unexpectedly. That night, I sat alone in my house at my computer for hours, mindlessly listening to music to console me and my pain, yet impulsively sobbing, those deep kinds of sobs where you can't breathe and you can't control the tears, which just keep coming, even when you think you don't have any left. Every time I thought about her, I cried more while coming to the realization that I could never see her again. I told my mom how I felt and she replied, "Even those who are gone, are with us as we go on."
Like how we saw puzzles in a different light, I saw this situation in a better light. People depart us, falling from our grip, to teach us about loss. My grandmother fell like an autumn leaf, but in time spring arrived because, like the seasons, people change. I miss our Sudoku adventures, but most importantly I carry on her wisdom and soul within me keeping her alive within my thoughts. Through my research on gold nanoparticles I hope to fight Leukemia by researching and experimenting with different theranostic techniques to honor her unjust death. If there were a way to turn back time and be able to help her I would. Her death to me is not a defeat. It has given me an even greater passion for helping and cherishing others in times of need and grief. Ever since, I realized the best doctors are ones who have the ability to care for others by addressing their spiritual and emotional needs, taking time to communicate and listen, and expressing empathy and compassion. I am excited about the medical field because I have the opportunity to be that doctor that treats a patient as a whole person and not just as a disease process or illness. There are countless opportunities in such a dynamic field to help and to heal, to comfort and to learn, to grow and make peace. As a physician, I hope to be a patient advocate, a teacher, a role model, and a friend. Although this journey is a much more complex puzzle than a mere game of Sudoku, I vow to solve this puzzle in humanity in honor of her death. As I research, I feel her presence all the time, reminding me that "It's a game of boxes, yes, but think outside the box." I also remind myself her last words "Don't worry, be happy." That is what I plan to do. I plan to pursue my dreams no matter the complexity, time commitment, and risk. I vow to make her death a strength that brings me towards success.