On December 28th, I went into my Mom’s room to look for a photo. It was a photo of her and I in Texas before we trekked over to California. I scrummaged through her closet to find the various scrapbooks we’ve accumulated over the years. I found a stack of photos of her in Vietnam, when she visited my grandmother, and I stumbled upon a photo of my mother and someone else. My mom was younger in this picture, she was at an age I had never seen her, and the man next to her, was someone I’d never seen before as well.
I flipped the photo and saw a small note written in cursive English. It hit me that I’ve seen this photo before. I remembered that I’ve read this note before. I realized this is a photo I had been meaning to find again and here it was.
“Nothing can erase the memories of the those days we spent together.”
Yours ever and always.
The man in the photo is my dad, my biological father, the missing person in my parentage, someone who I think about quite too often for someone who’s not in my life. In the photo, my mother and father are next to each other, standing shyly, looking like two innocent lovers who just got together. I’m assuming the photo was taken in Indonesia, where I was born, because I do not recall my father with us in Vietnam. Overwhelmed with emotion, I teared up for obvious and some not so obvious reasons. For most of my life, I felt devalued and lesser than my peers with complete families so I, myself, felt incomplete. But, now, at the age of 22, I no longer ask, “Am I worth less because my father is not in my life?”
Instead, I ask, “Isn’t his life worth less because I’m not in his life?” I know my worth and it’s not defined by the lack of his presence, him not being here for me has only made me stronger.
A memory that calls to mind was when I was in high school and my mother picked me up to go home. During the car drive, she asked if I was dating someone. I said no. Then, she began to softly lecture, teaching me lessons I would not yet reflect upon, about how men sweet talk to avoid the issues and how words cannot mend actions. On occasion, I would ponder if my mother misses my dad. I don’t miss him, but I hope he misses us.
As an aspiring writer, I devote myself to being authentic. I devote myself to living a life of honesty and documenting the truth. But… the truth isn’t always pain-free. The truth isn’t always easy to accept, but ever so often, beauty can flourish from the darkest and ugliest crevices. To be able to ascend from the murky depths of grime and filth, a blossom of change spreads its petals of perseverance, and when we prosper in an environment of deterioration, that is success. Success doesn’t always come in form of money, it can come in a manner where we learn from the past, take what we’ve learned, and execute it so our future is better, not bitter.
Speaking of bitter, today might be a bitter day for some, but not for myself. I’ve never been sour about Valentine’s Day – despite the fact that I’ve never had a Valentine – EVER – (cue in audience laughter) I actually love seeing all the love being spread today. If you know me, I love pink and today is plastered with pink. I love it!
Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you have a day filled with sweetness – whether it comes in the form of chocolate, friendship, or family. Enjoy today, be safe and be grateful. Thank you for your time, thank you for reading. ♡