Miracle. All of it.

Hello, welcome.

My name is Julie Yip-Williams. I am grateful and deeply honored that you are here. This story begins at the ending. Which means that if you are here, then I am not. But it’s okay.

My life was good and my life was complete. It came to so much more than I ever thought possible, or than my very humble beginnings would have given me the right to expect. I was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an immigrant, a cancer patient, a lawyer, and now a writer. I tried to live always with good intentions and a good heart, although I am sure I have hurt people along the way. I tried my best to live a full, rewarding life, to deal with the inevitable trials with grace, and to emerge with my sense of humor and love for life intact. That’s all. Even though I am dying in my early forties, and leaving my precious children behind, I am happy.

My life was not easy. That I survived infancy was something of a miracle, that I made it to America, also a miracle. Being born poor and blind in Vietnam on the losing side of a bloody civil war should have defined my life and sealed my fate. Those things marked me, but they did not stop me. Dying has taught me a great deal about living—about facing hard truths consciously, about embracing the suffering as well as the joy. Wrapping my arms around the hard parts was perhaps the great liberating experience of my life.

Directly or indirectly, we all experience the hard parts. The events that we hear about on the news or from friends, those tragedies ending in death that happen to other people in other places, which make us sad but also relieved and grateful as we think, There but for the grace of God…—destructive hurricanes and earthquakes, violent shootings and explosions, car accidents, and of course, insidious illnesses. These things shake us to the core because they remind us of our mortality, of how impotent we truly are in the face of unseen forces that would cause the earth to tremble or cells to mutate and send a body into full rebellion against itself.

I set out here to write about my experience of that, both the life lived and the trials endured—neither comprehensively, you understand, but enough to fully show you the distance I traveled and the world in which I made my life. And what began as a chronicle of an early and imminent death became—if I may be very presumptuous—something far more meaningful: an exhortation to you, the living.

Live while you’re living, friends.

From the beginning of the miracle, to the unwinding of the miracle.

Julie Yip-Williams, February 2018

~ Julie Yip-Williams, “Prologue” from The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything that Comes After (Random House, February 5, 2019)


Notes:

Comments

  1. Deeply moving. What a sentence Wrapping my arms around the hard parts was perhaps the great liberating experience of my life is and what insight this blind, ill woman had. Reminds me of the question „Is there a life before death“ or „Live every day as if it were your last“. What a ‚miracle‘ of another dimension

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, my. How moving. We must appreciate the life we have.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. how powerful, i wish we could all embrace being alive as much as she has. she knows the value of every moment, good and bad. she is on a whole other level of understanding, that most of us can only aspire to come close to.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Death has definitely taught me about living fully too! .Julie is a beautiful example of being present to what is, accepting it fully and appreciating each breath she takes with her loved ones. Thank you for sharing. 🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Amazing real life story … ‘From the beginning of the miracle, to the unwinding of the miracle. … Julie Yip-Williams, February 2018. “Prologue” from The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything that Comes After (Random House, February 5, 2019).’

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t think anything has ever grounded me, in an unsettling was, as much as the story of someone being ready for their death. This, and Paul Kalanithi from when breath becomes air.

    Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  7. No words 😶

    Liked by 1 person

  8. wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “And what began as a chronicle of an early and imminent death became—if I may be very presumptuous—something far more meaningful: an exhortation to you, the living. Live while you’re living, friends.”

    There is absolutely nothing presumptuous about these words. Re-read these lines over and over. Words to heed for all of us. Thanks, Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Live while you’re living! Great advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My husband showed incredible bravery, generosity and forgiveness in his last weeks. I have tried to remember his example and to live my days with kindness, love and even joy – and I fail frequently. Ms. Yip-Williams reminds me that every moment, however seemingly ordinary – unloading the dishwasher, driving my child to and from work, housework – is precious and should be viewed as a gift. Every day, every breath. May God grant me the grace to “live while I’m living” as fully as she, and he, did.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Walking through that valley of death with my husband woke me up to living…every moment, every day. We’re not eternal.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Anne, I fail frequently, too. On so many levels. And then a reminder like this comes along. So I feel grateful for my life and grateful for another opportunity to try.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This was so moving

    Liked by 1 person

  15. David, before I read your post I was lamenting about the tasks I have to do today. After I read your post: now I’m not. Thank you. Cher xo

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks for sharing such a great reminder, David. For some reason, your like button doesn’t work for me. It rejects me. There’s a glitch somewhere with wordpress.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. There is nothing quite like facing death to remind us what living is, or should be, or should have been. She faced death with grace and dignity. And what a beautiful thing to leave behind as her legacy but a call for all to “live” while you are alive. It’s the only chance we’ve got.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “enough to fully show you the distance I traveled and the world in which I made my life” and she did so with such Eloquence, Grace, Gratefulness, Joy and she left a Legacy of Love, in which she taught determination through her perseverance, kindness…she experienced very difficult situations and in hindsight knew she was bettered by them,she kept moving forward, her growth and outlook a shinning example of the Joy you see radiating through her face….

    Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks

  1. […] Kanigan quoted the late Julie Yip-Williams, author of The Unwinding of the Miracle, on his Live and Learn blog recently. Ms. Yip-Williams wrote about her life with cancer (the same kind of cancer that took […]

    Liked by 1 person

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