Thursday, July 1, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
*Today I discovered that I had started writing a post 2 months ago on my birthday..
My grandmother passed away two weeks ago – two weeks before my 23rd birthday. This brought me home from Korea to celebrate her life with my family. And what a life she lived indeed. Born in China in 1916 to a prestigious family, the communist revolution in the 1950s would force her to flee with her family (my dad was just 1 at the time) to Hong Kong and then later to Taiwan where she would struggle to raise her family for the next couple of decades. Then when my grandfather passed away in 1984 (3 years before I was born), she came to Los Angeles, where she lived until the ridiculous age of 94.
We had a service just for our family on Saturday, which was a tad bit awkward in the beginning. My family definitely was not all that close – many of us hadn’t even seen each other in years. But it ended up being such a good time. After spending all day Saturday together we started to feel like a real family.
Family is so important. It’s sad that it always takes tragedies to make us realize this, but that’s how it is I suppose. I wish we had more opportunities to spend good together. I wish I had made more of an effort to get to know and to be with my family. I wish my family had more fun together and could support each other like a real family should.
So if family is so important than why are so many families falling apart? I obviously am no expert, but I suspect a lot of this is due to pride and selfishness. When we stop putting the needs of others ahead of our own and focus only on what we want, that’s when love begins to die – that’s when relationships fall apart.
A week after burying my grandmother in Los Angeles, I was back in South Korea celebrating my birthday. Birthdays (like deaths) are strange in that you can’t help but to examine your life. You ask questions like are you satisfied with your life right now? Have you grown over the last year? Do you have any real friends? Are you happy? And so on.
One year ago I was still in college. About a week away from when my theses were due, which probably meant I was freaking the heck out and not sleeping. Now I’m here in Korea and it feels so weird. All the people that I have spent years, even my entire life, with are not here. In their place I have my students, co-workers, host family, Fulbright and Jinju friends.
In my last year here in Korea, these people have been like family to me. I consider my good friends to be my family. I don’t know if this is because I’m an only child or if it’s because I didn’t spend that much time with my extended family growing up or what, but the same things I would do for my family I would do for my friends. These friends here in Korea have supported me when I was feeling down and brought me so much joy. Without them I probably would have run away from Korea a long time ago.
All this is to say treasure your friends and family and keep them close to you. Put their needs in front of your own. And enjoy living with them because in the same way that there’s no point in living a life you don’t enjoy, there’s also no point in living if you’re all alone. Good friends and family can help you get through anything.