11/04/2019

when we live in the moment


Sunday, October 27th. It's taken some time for me to flesh this out. I'm still not sure if I've consolidated everything that I'm feeling... but here we go for now.

It's already been one whole year since you breathed your last and left this world to be with our good Father. One year since I read the text from my mom and started sobbing uncontrollably in front of a group of people I didn't know quite well at the time (today, many of them are near and dear friends who are like family to me here in Philly). One year since I sincerely learned the values of vulnerability, life on Earth, and death in faith. As Nora McInerny worded in her TED talk on grief—we don't move on from those we've lost. Instead, we move forward with them treasured in our hearts. It's already been one whole year, but to this very day I'm witnessing more and more of the imprint you made down here.

To be completely honest, I still bear an immense sense of guilt for not reaching out to you while you were hurting. I would pray about you unceasingly, but for some reason I couldn't find the courage to send a simple message asking How are you doing? or to visit your family whenever I was home for break. During the time my dad was battling his own cancer, your family visited often, prayed, and made food for us. While our parents were downstairs for cell group, and I felt shy and lonely amongst the other loud kids, you sat down right next to me and made sure that I was included in whatever games the other children were playing. You showed me so much compassion even at such a young age. And I couldn't even send you a text. That painful regret lies somewhere extremely deep in my heart and is something that'll take a long time for me to heal from.

I'm so sorry.


Yet, that regret has taught me to be more soft-hearted and intentional in every one of my relationships, especially my relationships with younger sisters. I want them to remember that I am always available for them no matter what and that I truly desire to know how they're doing and how I can best love them. Sometimes, we really can't anticipate how God uses each of us to support one another, so I want to give my all in loving each person He's placed around me well.

Beccs, you were and still are an inspiration. For one thing, your love for sharing with the world what you see through your camera lens (that I remember you hilariously shattered into a million pieces in front of the yearbook room in junior high) has motivated me to carry around a camera (or at least, a good phone camera) with me wherever I go. Your work was always so raw, so warm, and so full of authenticity and spirit. Your creativity and love for life sparked greater curiosity in my own. From marveling at the sky's colorful palettes and at baby plants shooting up from the ground, to strolling through art museums just for the heck of it or drinking an iced coffee at 10:00pm simply because coffee tastes so good—appreciating the small things has become a necessary part of my day to day. And, I still go by your egg tutorial to cook my eggs in the morning.

Most importantly, you've shown me that death isn't the beginning of the end, but rather the end of the beginning. It's not that life is over, but rather that life is taking on a new course. A new route. A route that many not have been written in our books, but was in God's book all along.


Man, cancer is a jerk.

For a while, I was avoiding anything that had to do with cancer because I didn't want to be provoked. I avoided books and films. I avoided talking about it. If I heard that someone else had lost someone to cancer, I would turn away and cry when I returned home. When people joked about cancer in front of me (My throat hurts, I think I have cancer! This class is cancer!), I would be infuriated inside. However, a few months ago, I finally got around to reading When Breath Becomes Air because a number of friends had recommended it to me and told me that I would be very moved by it. And indeed, I was. Paul Kalanithi was in his last year of neurosurgical residency at Stanford when he was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer. When Breath Becomes Air is his memoir, and Paul's wife writes in the epilogue:
"Although these last few years have been wrenching and difficult—sometimes almost impossible—they have also been the most beautiful and profound of my life, requiring the daily act of holding life and death, joy and pain in balance and exploring new depths of gratitude and love. Relying on his own strength and the support of his family and community, Paul faced each stage of his illness with grace—not with bravado or misguided faith that he would 'overcome' or 'beat' cancer but with an authenticity that allowed him to grieve the loss of the future he had planned and forge a new one."
Beccs, I wouldn't have been able to reach the depth of genuine gratitude and love that I was able to experience this past year without the impact that you left. I wouldn't have been able to let go of the excessive expectations and standards I set for myself that had been wearing me down all these years. I wouldn't have been able to face grief or loss in the ways that allowed me to grow nearer to God and nearer to my loved ones.

So—thank you. Thank you for showing me how much more warm and bright the sun can be. For reminding me that darkness isn't scary at all, because when God's light is present, darkness becomes nothing. For teaching me that education is such a privilege, that vulnerability is so freeing, and that admiration of God's creations should be an integral piece of my everyday. I can't wait to see you up in Heaven and give you a massive hug.
"I don’t believe in the wisdom of children, nor in the wisdom of the old. There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of the living. We are never so wise as when we live in the moment."
Much love,
Chaereen