20 Things I’m Grateful for in 2020

20 Things I’m Grateful for in 2020

What better way to start this than giving thanks to those who invested their precious time in reading my previous list and expressed their well wishes? You guys have inspired me to come up with another list. 2020 has been unfriendly to everyone and during this crisis, it’s easy not to practice gratitude. I know that everything I write here may not apply to you, but I truly hope that this list will remind you to be grateful even with the current difficulties the world is facing. 

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30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30

30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30

I’m not very big on celebrating my birthday anymore. I guess it’s part of growing up. Like it or not, some parts of you change as time passes. I hit 30 last Monday. A year older and perhaps wiser as everybody says. Despite the fact that I chose not to blow the candles on my day, I couldn’t be more grateful to have reached this age. My 20s was one hell of a ride! To bid adieu to my 20s, I’ve come up with a list of lessons I learned as I went through the last chapters of my life as a 20-something girl. I don’t know who needs to hear them but I’ll just leave them here.

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It Still Hurts But It’s Okay

It Still Hurts But It’s Okay

I have spent almost half of my life longing for my father’s return. It has been over a decade since I heard his voice over the phone. That particular call he made right before he vanished turned out to be his very last call. I still remember the excitement of that naive teenage girl after being told that her father was coming back home after being away for a while bringing along his fruits of labor to be shared with the whole family. I have been trying to keep that particular memory from fading away. I still want to remember it as it is the only thing that reminds me of how painful that day was. Growing up without a father to rely on is depressing. Picturing his calm face brings both joy and loneliness. Recalling the sound of his voice is getting harder as it keeps fading away with each passing day.

Sometimes, I still feel like hell reliving those first despairing weeks of him missing in the deep ocean. And other times I feel like a bright spring day wishing he’d appear somewhere. Hiding my sadness away is an ability I have learned over the years. I want to get over the fact of him not being here anymore. But I sometimes feel guilty for wanting so. I should be feeling this sorrow for the rest of my life, shouldn’t I? Isn’t it part of living? I still feel out of sorts whenever I try to imagine him struggling for his breath beneath the waves amidst the unforgiving storm. I still ask God why it had to happen that way. I still don’t think he deserved such a horrible way to go. He was easy to be liked. Many people were fond of him as I can clearly remember. Maybe if he was the opposite, it would have been much easier to accept.

More than a decade has passed and his body has not been found. Abruptly losing a loved one is devastating enough but not having the chance to see them in their final days surely can mess up a person’s mental health. With a confused mind, the definition of an unfair life was portrayed right before me. As a budding teenager, I had to live life differently. At a young age, I came face to face with grief. Without knowing much about it, I imperceptibly learned to befriend grief. It became my other self unbeknownst to me. It caused me to pin my hopes on alcohol just so I could drown the feeling I never wanted to have. It felt like living in two different lives. A quite grieving Christian daughter at home and church, then an alcoholic somewhere away from my family’s eyes. I lived like that until I finished the degree that my father chose for me. I don’t know how I did it but thank God I did.

If I look back at those dragging years of suffering, I am rather surprised that I am still here writing about it. More than anything, my faith in God brought me to where I am now. I don’t know where I’d be if not for His grace. I’d be hypocrite if I said my faith was never swayed. Of course I almost lost it. I even thought God betrayed me at some point. Thinking about it, betraying me was not His intention at all I suppose. Perhaps it was His way to prepare me for everything this life would throw at me. I have had broken friendships and relationships but the wounds healed over time without me feeling sorrowful all over again. I have had people turning their backs on me but moving on has been a lot easier than I expected. That devastating time of my life has definitely taught me a good number of significant lessons which I am truly grateful for. Although it hurts how it had to be that way– that awful way, God has been so kind to me even though I cursed him once or twice. 

My heart still aches every time I realize that my kind father will never return. It still pains me when days are colorful but he is not here with me to celebrate them. My eyes still well up when things get rough but I can’t run to him to confide. I still hate the thought of losing him in a dreadful way. God has been so good to me that whenever I feel like drowning in sorrow, I am reminded of how blessed I was to be loved by someone like him. He was the kind of father others would wish to have. It soothes my aching heart all the time. I just wish he could see the 30-year old woman that I have become now. I was 15 or 16 when he last saw me. Lastly, I still wish I could hear him say goodbye even in my dreams.

As much as I want the pain to come to an end, but it is the only thing that reminds me of my dad. I am scared that when I forget about the pain, I will forget the feeling of missing him. I want him to know that even if he is not coming back anymore, he will always be missed. When he was suffering all alone in the cold, I couldn’t come to his rescue. Missing him for the rest of my life is the only thing I can do for him now. 

If you have recently lost a loved one, hang in there. You may be in so much pain now but it only shows how much you love them. Give yourself some time to mourn in solitude. That’s where you can find the most strength. It’s not going to be easy but you have to keep going for the people who are still with you. Talk about it with the people you trust. Talk to God. Write about it. And don’t forget how blessed you are despite being left behind. It’s going to rain hard for who knows how long, but the sun will surely brightly shine upon you.

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