Memories are so haunting
I drove by a familiar place today. For a brief moment I was reminded of a time when life was innocent, and the most complicated thing that summer was forcing myself to sit down and comprehend all that literature for my summer assignment.
You’ve always put my education first.
I don’t recall a time when you’ve ever let me down when it comes to my education. That was always a priority in our family, and often times I feel your time and effort was wasted on me. But I remember you found your way to this particular Barnes & Noble. So far from home. Such a scary world out there without GPS and smartphones, but you’ve never failed me.
What happened, daddy?
When I was younger and I made mistakes, or I did something to disappoint you, screams and violent yelling would proceed. I was always so terrified of your booming voice. That thunderous sound back then was a reiteration of how wrong my actions were, a reminder of how disappointed you were in me.
What happened to that yelling? What happened to that innocence?
Those violent storms are now replaced with silence. I’m older now. I’m older now, and you’re growing weary I suppose. I’ve come to understand when I disappoint you. I don’t need the sounds of thunder to remind me that my choices do not meet your approval. It’s ironic how as a child, loud screams are an indication of dreams deferred, and now silence fills that same void. But that’s how you know I’ve grown up, right daddy?
I’ve made my choices. I hope I can live with them. I have been quite successful as a matter of fact. However, there are days like today. There are brief moments like these. There are deja vu locations that instantly take me back to a time where my choices were fixed by you. All I had to do was be angry at you.
Anger is so much easier than accepting that my choices disappoint you.
Anger is so much more forgiving than accepting that you’ve never abandoned me, but I’m beginning to abandon you. Anger is less haunting than guilt. Anger doesn’t spark memories in the middle of a hot summer day. But guilt, guilt stirs up memories that no matter how pleasant, can haunt my actions for the rest of my life.
Happiness is fleeting.
At 6 PM today my good news finally arrived in the mail. I have been antsy waiting for the mailman to come all day. I hate waiting. I was waiting for a green letter. When my parents rushed into the house – I should say flew, they literally flew – waiving my board letter in front of me, my heart stopped.
My heart stopped. It was like an omen of its own.
I swiftly tore that letter open. I could not see the green letter through the little window showing my address, and this made me even more anxious. I stared at the letter, unable to make sense of it in the first few seconds. My eyes quickly and confusedly glanced through it. The words “Congratulations, you’ve passed CPJE” did not register when I read it. I read it again. A smile formed on my face. My parents started to have a screaming fest. We exchanged hugs. More screams of happiness ensued.
I’ve finally received my long awaited green letter. I passed both my NAPLEX and CPJE. I was officially licensed to practice pharmacy in California. This was the biggest accomplishment my family and I had been working for since we stepped foot onto this foreign land March of 1995. Joy and relief could not even come close to describing how we felt. Emotions rushed through us. Emotions we could not explain. Emotions only we as a family could comprehend. We were happy.
However, happiness is fleeting.
At 9:12 PM the phone rang. My caller ID displayed an array of strange numbers. It kept ringing. Then all was silent. At 9:30 PM the phone rang again. It was loud. Annoying. Persistent. Again, it kept ringing, its urgency ignored, and then forgotten. That’s the thing about strangers. We ignore them and refuse to invite them to enter into our comfort zone. We are so stubborn we sometimes end up refusing to acknowledge the people we know.
At 11:00 PM the phone rang, again. In less than a minute everything was a blur. Despite the blasting music from our TV because all Asian parents are inherently deaf, everything was silent.
It was a silence that shattered the noise. Silence that penetrated into my green letter of emerging hope. Silence that replaced her existence.
I felt anger and sadness. I was angry because she deserved so much more. Kind, generous, and loving do not come close to describing the kind of person she was. But that is the problem with a heart attack. It does not care who you are, how young you are, or what kind of person you are. It comes into existence to rob the world of your existence.
She was my neighbor, my family. As my tears break the silence that was overwhelming my heart, I am more angered by the fact that I will not be there to see her begin her journey into eternal sleep. I cannot thank her enough for all that she has done for me my first 7 years of existence. I cannot thank her enough for making my poverty-filled childhood filled with joy and rich memories.
Happiness is fleeting. It comes in spurts. Thank you for giving me many spurts of happy memories.
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
This is one of my all time favorite poem … I ran into it when I was still in high school. Whenever I need a dose of inspiration … actually a better term would be motivation, I take a minute of my busy day to read. Once in a while, it happens to be this:
After A While
by Veronica A. Shoffstall
After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn…
and you learn…
with every goodbye, you learn …