Is it just me or does it feel like a surprise that 2009 is about to end? I feel like I just finished with all the to-do’s of Halloween. Our multi-cultural family is celebrating Hanukah and Christmas, and expecting the Chinese New Year just around the corner. It’s a busy and festive time for us, especially for our children. With all these holidays coming together in such a compacted time, it can feel like a race to the finish line. Yet during these holidays, when a year is about to end, it is such apt time to reflect on the year that has passed. Its moments — big and small, the ups and downs. To understand the current that flows. To draw learning and meaning from our life this past year,our personal and professional. To be present with these 365 days that have passed, that make up who we are, yet will never be, again.
When I can be present, I’m reminded of how lucky we are that our family has such a rich background of races, ethnicities, religions and cultures. Within the next week, my children will see all three grandmothers, one of whom is African-American and Episcopalian, one of whom is Caucasian and Jewish and one of whom is Chinese and Buddhist. My heart is so filled to watch my children feel at ease with all grandmothers, knowing that in them, is literally, all of these backgrounds. They feel no conflict, no either/or. There is this wonderful embracing and honoring of all these aspects. Through their view of their grandmothers, I understand viscerally that we are, indeed, all one.
And so, in the quiet moment where I can reflect on these holidays, I am reminded that I can witness this wonderful infusion of multiciplicty in my kids, because of my decision fifteen years ago, to marry my husband Marc. I went against all conventions of a Chinese immigrant daughter, to marry someone whose father was a Caucasian Jew and whose mother was an African-American Episcopalian, and whose father had re-married. After 10 years of dating, my parents still had such hesitation and worries. They loved Marc. They worried whether the world would accept us. If our lives would be hard. If we would face rejection, as they had faced, as immigrants in this country. If we could live a happy life. Perhaps, there was a bit of fear of losing face in the Chinese community. But I daresay that was the least of their concerns.
This year was our 25th year together, since meeting at a high school party as seniors, in New York City. Our futures had already been decided. He was going to MIT and I to Harvard. From two different high schools, our paths crossed one evening in February and our lives were forever changed.
My decision to date, to keep dating and then to marry Marc was by far the biggest, boldest and most passionate decision I ever made in my life. It went against all logic of creating a successful life, if one looked through the lens of security, societal acceptance and social status. Yet there was this amazing human being whom I just couldn’t separate myself from, with whom I felt like I just had to share my life. Sure we had our challenges along the way. I tested the elasticity of this relationship in many ways. Yet Marc always stood so clearly on our side. He was a person of certainty, of unwavering knowing. How does one resist such compassion, understanding and love?
Twenty-five years later, two wonderful children later, we are still here, bonded by a connection formed in the ethers of our existence. We’ve felt the limits of our elasticity. We’ve taken on roles we never imagined when we shared our vows. We’ve experienced sadness that took us to our deepest darkness. Yet more often, much more often, we’ve experienced joys, discoveries and connections that are truly gifts of a lifetime. Life was uncertain. Life continues to be uncertain. How we will evolve in years to come is a mystery and an adventure.
But at the end of twenty-five years together, I celebrate my courage to follow my passion, to follow my young but deep faith in love. I am grateful, beyond words, to have had the gift to meet another human being who has the capacity for compassion, love and faith, so much so that it has filled the both of us and changed me from a person of worry to a person of the deepest faith of the goodness of one’s life. I reflect with wonder, joy and deep gratitude. I thank my parents who despite all sense of logic, leapt in their faith with me, as they had so many times in their lives. As a parent now, I celebrate the wonders of our children. I hope Marc and I can imbue in them such deep love for themselves and for the world in which they live. To live with unending wonder and curiosity about life, to live fully and to trust life.
Twenty-five years seem like such a stretch of time. Yet in reality, they have been an amalgamation of moments. Moments that I’ve learned to honor with presence. Moments of practice. Moments of love. Moments of faith. Moments of gratitude. Moments of now.
And so I leave you with an opportunity to be present with your moments of this past year. What do these moments, the current of these moments, speak? What guiding force emerges for what is yet to come?