I woke up to a rainy morning. Turning around, I saw my father standing over me smiling with his hands on his waist.
“Gina, I think I should just buy a plane ticket and go together with you. You can’t even take care of yourself. How am I supposed to believe you’re going to be fine over there?”
I had tripped and got myself a minor cut on my leg just the night before. When I came back, he saw the blood and immediately went to get the antiseptic and plasters. Even though it’s just a minor cut and I told him I was fine, the worry on his face told me it was more than just the cut he was worried about. And I don’t know what to do or say to make him feel better, so I just sat there and tended to my own wounds, as if that would make him somehow feel that his little girl can tend to her own wounds herself.
“I’m okay, daddy, I’ll be fine. We can contact via Skype and everything so it’s not like I can’t see you again forever,” I told him, still lying in my bed half asleep.
There was silence for a while. And then, just before he left my room, he said with a dejected tone in his voice, “… So, is there anything else you haven’t packed yet?”
I cannot tell him that I’ve yet to pack a little bit of courage and faith into my luggage.
So instead, I shook my head and went, “Nope, I’m all set.”
I have five more days here in Singapore, and I am extremely touched by the warmth and love that I’ve been receiving in the last week that I’m here. Small gestures do make the biggest difference but I tend to detach myself in situations when I think I might cry and laugh it all off as a joke.
There are moments when I get intense butterflies in my stomach knowing that everything is going to change in five days. I panic. I take deep breaths. I try to be strong on my own and I will myself to think of happier things and remind myself of the reasons why I am going there for. For a while, yeah, things gets better. But as the day of the flight approaches, these moments come violently and unexpectedly. And I’m doing my best to stay strong somehow but I end up feeling even more vulnerable than before, if that is even possible at all.
When I hold my dad’s hand and could feel, just from his grip, that he isn’t that big strong fearless man I used to know him as before, these are the moments I want to break down and run away from reality like a screaming child. Then I think to myself that I’m already an adult and I shouldn’t be behaving like this anymore, even though these are the times I want to run into my parents’ arms to cry and not do anything in the world today. So I toughen myself up, pretend I’m the strong one, and hold him in my arms instead. He stays still when I do, for as long as I do, and now, as I do so, he just closes his eyes and smile like a child. So I stiffen my lip up and try my best not to give myself away.
I am the happiest I’ve ever been – and I say this with such gratitude for having such incredible warm people in my life.
I am becoming the best version of myself I’ve ever been – and I say this because of such incredible warm people I have in my life.
I will not trade anything in the world for them, and although I’m no man of faith, I pray in my heart they won’t lose their incredible warm self, and I pray that good things will always come to them. This time, it really does feel like I’m flipping to the end of a chapter of my life. The rest is yet unwritten; but I pray I will never forget to say thank you for whatever’s to come my way in my life from here on out.
Today, my mom took me to the temple that held our ancestors’ tablets to pray for blessings. We flagged a taxi and hopped on.
On our way there, the taxi driver asked about us and chatted with my mom. He shared a story of a female passenger he picked up recently. The woman was smart, capable and married well. However, she was missing something in life and was on her way to the temple to pray for fertility – her husband and her have been trying for children, but she was unable to bear a child. She told the taxi driver that not being able to bear a child for her husband is the biggest regret of her life. During reunion dinners, her nephew would come up to her innocently and tell her, “Auntie, you’re so capable, and you have a good life and a loving husband, but you can’t even lay a single egg.”
It hurt her so badly that she couldn’t sleep for months.
As a female who has grown to love children, my heart broke just hearing that. The kid probably meant no harm, but hearing that still made my heart seeth with anger. If I was put in the same shoes as her, I would break down and not sleep for months too.
But the taxi driver said to her (I’m translating from Chinese), “I’ve learned in life that you should thank the heavens for blessing you with all the things you have in your life,” he paused, “but I think what’s more important, however, is that you should thank the heavens even more for all the things you don’t have.” (你要感谢上天给你的所有一切，可是更重要的是，要感谢上天所没有给你的一切啊.)
When I heard that, the anger in my heart dissipated. I learned an extremely valuable lesson today and it was extremely timely to hear such comforting words.
… Some taxi drivers may not be the smartest in the world, but I have and always believed that they are often the wisest people you will ever come across in your life.
When they ask what I think about all this moving,
I want to say that it feels like a fresh start, like you’re finally getting down to cleaning the weeds in your lawn and sweeping the dust out, and letting the sunshine in finally. It feels like you’re finally done hanging onto things that should not matter anymore. It feels neat and clean and fresh. And you’re finally seeing that you have so much space in your life again. But it feels equally empty and terrifying like what am I going to do with all this new found space I have now?!
The fresh start is extremely exhilarating. It makes my blood pump faster and slower at the same time. The excitement in my bones of what’s to come. I welcome experience – both good and bad. I’m doing everything once and for all – like forcing myself to see the dentist to make sure I have a clean set of teeth even though I hate going to the dentist, and getting a fresh new haircut and colour, I got myself a new pair of glasses and fresh set of clothes and undergarments. It feels like I’m an empty canvas again. And if anyone asks me how all that feels like, I will tell them it feels incredibly refreshing. It feels like rebirth. And it also feels like death.