January 18, 2014

Love & Lost

(Grandma sending me off to Cambodia, circa 1996 and 1994)

You never know what you have until it's gone. I've never been a fan of clichés, but this one hits home in all its truthfulness and depth. Less than 48hrs ago, I lost a very important person in my life, my Grandma. As I clutched onto my phone with my sweaty hands at 3am awaiting updates from my aunt and uncle after the doctor's fourth and final attempt at resuscitation, those three words struck me like a bullet train : Ma is gone.

I want the world to know how much of a remarkable person she really was... 

There are certain situations that one is luck enough to prepare for in life, but we seldom ever think about preparing ourselves for the loss of a loved one. Perhaps we've just been too preoccupied being with them as they are, to even give a moment's thought to when we would no longer have them in our lives. As sudden as I heard those three words, I desperately longed for just a few more moments so that I could tell her I love her, that she's been the best grandmother any grandchild would be so lucky to love --I really wanted her to know that. I wish time would allow us to build more memories together. The last time was this Thanksgiving... how I wished I could have skipped that Modern Family marathon to just hold her and talk to her. Or instead of sleeping in, I could have sat next to her and watched her favorite Chinese opera in the mornings.

My grandma and I were really close. Flashbacks of her smile when we hugged for the first time when I visited her during the summers, the smell of her famous curry and dumplings, the way she knew how hungry I would get after playing in the pool and have a hearty meal ready for me afterwards, the sound of her yelling when I'd mockingly talk back to her during the childhood years that we lived together (and the smile she made after we both calmed down from a fight), or the excitement she failed to hide when I tried on the clothes she hand-sewn for me; these memories bring warmth and keeps her alive in my heart. 

I heard somewhere that when a person passes, the first thing we forget is their voice. But I will never forget her voice or her soft laughter when I'd swing open her bedroom door to give her a hug in an almost melodic, "Hiii, Maaa!" Never will I forget that no matter how sick she was feeling my grandma would gather all her energy to cook my favorite dishes during my visits, sit across from me to watch me eat, and then she'd ask me about my life --even after unsuccessful attempts at telling her to rest in bed. That was the kind of person my grandma was, when she loved, she really loved --and she never failed to show you each and every day, in a small or big way. One day, I will tell my future kids how much of an amazing person she was and then strive to become the person she would be most proud of. 

I miss her so much, and that will never stop. There is much comfort in knowing that she is in a much better place now, and the best I can do is cherish the concrete memories we shared. It seems no easy feat now, but I will choose to celebrate the beautiful person that she was and the unconditional love with which she filled our lives, instead of mourning the emptiness. And I will thank the universe everyday for how blessed I am to have been her grandchild. 

I'll love you forever, Ma...


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