We Met in 1996

We met in 1996 when you were only thirty-one. The first time our eyes locked amidst the chaos of the world, time stood still for just a moment as you smiled at me. Bright and full of life, your smile came with such ease that it showed no trace of the cruelness you experienced all too young. To the world that had not been so kind, revealing the ugliness of war and the power of hate, you held no resentment or anger. What a miracle it is, just to be here with you, you would say as we walked hand in hand to our Sunday breakfast ritual in Chinatown.

In a world where time never stands still, I thought we had all the time in the world. While we no longer spend our Sundays in Chinatown and our hands have grown to look identical, we still walk hand in hand from time to time. I can only catch glimpses that reveal how much time has passed―lines at the edge of your mouth and the crinkle at the corner of your eyes, formed from our life of laughter. Your hurried hands that used to tie the laces of my shoes on Monday mornings are now decorated with scars and sunspots, showing signs of the weight you carried in my stead. Your sharp memory that used to serve as a reminder of all my wrongdoings now comes and goes, worn down from the burdens you took on alone.  

I will never know all that you gave up so I would not have to. Nor will I know how many times you have worn the title of Mother as a badge of honor or carried it as a weight on your shoulders. Was there ever a time when your nontransferrable title did not bear so much weight? An answer I can never receive for a question I asked too late because it has been a few years since you could remember my face. But when you smile, time still pauses, and in that glimpse that leaves all too quickly, I see our Sunday mornings in Chinatown. 

Amidst all that has changed and everything that will never be the same, What a miracle it is, just to be here with you.