Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year-end Lunch - Year-end Story

Darius and Anne on Dec 31st, 2016

This year of 2016 has been a tough year for some of us - Some lost jobs, some lost house, some even lost family members.. Year of 2016 is a Monkey year based on Eastern astrology. Monkey year usually is a tough year, such as the year of 1968 Mậu Thân – So many cruel things happened in my home country that year that they were marked in the history!

Waking up this morning, the last day of the year, I thought to myself, "what would be a best and meaningful way to end this "not-smooth" year... I then thought about my "old-but-not-too-old" friend, Darius Marand. 

I met Darius at one of my workplaces. The office wasn't close enough to the nearest metro station; no buses went by either. Darius made that distance closer for all the workers who used public transportation. In the morning, Darius would take us from the metro station to the office, then bring us back from the office to the metro station in the afternoon. Every time I saw Darius, I learned some great things about him and about what he experienced before he became our company shuttle driver. One day, when I asked, "How are you doing, today?" He was smiling and answered... "My kidney is still bleeding... I've been having pain like hell all night… But I had experienced worse so I am not complaining..." I then told him, "With all the pain that you are enduring, you are still smiling..." He then responded back, "Smiling takes much less effort and is much easier to do than crying... Crying demands too much things involved, facial muscle, tears, energy,..." That answer really made me laugh. Over time, we’ve become friends. I respected that guy more and more every day. He didn't realize how much I've learned from him. I’ve seen so many people who have everything to be happy but still cry... Cry for wanting more, cry for not seeing the luck they have, and cry to make people around miserable so that they could get what they wanted.

Right after Pentagon got hit on the September 11th, Darius got called in, “There were only two people who spoke the language there well – one on West coast and you here on the East coast. You need to go back. The country needs you!”
Sergeant Darius Marand is a combat veteran of the United States Army who served as a translator for several tours of duty in Afghanistan. One day, his convoy hit an improvised explosive device. Darius was seriously wounded in the explosion and spent a significant amount of time in the hospital recovering from his injuries. Nonetheless, as soon as he was discharged from the hospital, he returned to Afghanistan to continue serving his country. Darius got shot three times. When his service was concluded and Darius came home for good. Darius had an apartment in Arlington and started looking for a job. Darius has continued his devotion to serving others in his civilian life and has done all kinds of work since getting out of the Army. He has been working as contractor serving the Red Cross delivering blood that helps save the lives of people in his community. Many times, he had to take the blood from DC all the way to Baltimore or Ocean City over night so that vital surgeries could be performed in time.

This year has been a tough year for Darius, besides his medical conditions that didn’t improve much, he got several car accidents and job changes… There have been more downs than ups that Darius had to go.

If I was to invite someone special to celebrate the end of the year, that would be Darius - I thought to myself. I then sent Darius a chat and asked if he would accept my invite, “Hey man, we got to celebrate. We overcame all obstacles of this freaking tough year. We made it! We proved how strong we were!” Darius was very happy. He was all dressed up. We headed to a Japanese buffet. Darius shared with me more stories about his family, his friends from the church, all the good people who have been helping him, and his PTSD support dog, Kobi.

Darius told me that his lunch with me this afternoon was one of best year-end gift ever and kept thanking me. But Darius has actually made my year-end gift. He helped me accept things that I had no choice but to carry with me… so I am carrying it with happiness and take it easier. Life is about sharing not only asking for more and only receiving. As Darius has said it himself, “My dad used to be a millionaire… but money doesn’t stay with you all your life.” Yes, when we die, nothing come with us but love from other people if we are lucky and smart enough to build and save some when we are alive. :)
Happy New Year to all of my dear readers and especially the special person I've talked about above :)

Anne Khanh-Van

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