Love and lost, live and appreciate

February 19, 2016

It was an open casket. His body was waxy-looking. He didn’t look real. It didn’t feel real. But I knew it was, right in front of my eyes, and I couldn’t move one step closer from my ten-foot distance to the casket.

One year ago, my friend’s father passed away. One year ago was the first and only time I have attended anything remotely related to a funeral. I didn’t know her father well at all, yet still my heart wrenched itself out of my chest, and tears poured down my cheeks.

At the time, I had thought the tears were for the pain of my friend and they were. But deeper in my mind, it was not her father, but rather my own parents who filled the entirety of the back of my mind.

How did she do it? How did she not melt into a puddle of despair? How did she survive and carry on with her life?

Two years ago, my mom flew back to China after a lifetime, but the reunion was nowhere near happy. I know she would have given up visits to China for life if she could take back the reason for this visit.

My grandpa was sick. I wanted to come along, see him one last time, but missing school wasn’t an option. A stronger rationale, my mom had no desire for me to see him in the condition he was. Then, we received the long-distance call: news of his passing. Even then, she remained strong, protecting me from the pain.

How did she stay so strong for the whole family? How did she protect me when she was the one to be hurt the most?

My parents frequently say, “Eventually, we’ll be gone. You and your brother stay close because we will not always be able to be there for you.”

Of course, we understood what the conversation is about. But, the words never truly registered. They still haven’t to this day. No way could my parents ever be gone from my life. That’s not possible.

This notion, this ignorance of the inevitable has caused me to take things for granted, things that should never be underappreciated. Sadly, this happens often.

My parents work harder than a camel pulling a caravan, crossing the Sahara Desert each and every day to ensure their children a life of comfort, yet I have the audacity to barely recognize, let alone acknowledge it. All parents, all around the world do this to provide a better life for their children.

I took my visits with my grandparents for granted, complaining about the hot China summer and interacting little with them because of my lack of knowledge of the Chinese language.

With all this love and luxury in life, how do we humans still struggle to appreciate?

My grandma visited last year. Those were the best spent three months of my life. Recently, I’ve looked around and realized how much I have, and no matter how many times I say thank you, it won’t make up for everything in my life. Maybe I am learning to appreciate.

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