Overall, I have felt very empty inside, as if my best friend has left me for a long period of time. I look to the side of me in the back seat and see an empty spot. Everything is silent in the car, broken only by my simple Chinese. There's an empty 4th seat at the dinner table whereever mama, baba and I eat. Family and friends, this has already proven to be very very hard.
It tore me up earlier today at the airport, when, as Lily was getting ready to go through customs, baba began to cry. They both hugged each other, both cried, it was very beautiful.
However, I believe we will all be together once again -- these are baba's words. I continue to look up to Lily's parents for strength. My god, how do they do it? Every year, they have to say goodbye to their baby girl (the only child for that matter). Each goodbye is almost worth a year, and at one point, it was worth 2 years, in which Lily did not see her family.
It isn't only just hard for Lily's parents, but for lao lao too ("lao lao" is grandmother). When I saw her this evening, she was very depressed. Part of this is because she did not get to see Lily one last time before Lily left. I hate to mention this, but I will never understand why Lily's parents insisted on heading to Beijing without first seeing Lily's grandparents one last time. One important thing that Brian has taught me is that family is very important, always make time for them, because you never know when that time will come again; I saw Granny this past July, she passed away later that month...
Not just lao lao, but I will continue to love lao ye, mama, baba, da yi (eldest aunt), san yi (third aunt), ar yi (second aunt), baba's parents, and the rest of Lily's family. This time, they won't have to suffer as much with Lily being gone, because I will be a son to them. In fact, this early evening, I rode my new bike outside lao lao's apartment for them all to see, even gemener! If you don't remember, gemener is the neighbor whom I call my "bro." He's so awesome, he gave me bing qi ling ("ice cream") for free when I showed up today at lao lao's
It already feels like a very beautiful relationship I have with Lily's family, especially with her parents. Today was our first day in which we had to communicate with each other without Lily. Suprisingly, we made a lot of general conversation. I said things like, "Lily likes this," "Thank you mom and dad," "I like this," "I miss Lily," "I told Lily's friend, Camay, to take care of Lily while Lily is gone." We all shared laughs, and ate food together. In fact, after dinner this evening, they took me for a walk around Lily's neighborhood.
We passed all the neighborhood people on the streets, who were selling random goods, whether it be a necklace or some kind of clothing. We also watched people write calligraphy into the street, using water on a brush. This was very enjoying, to see people get such enjoyment out of water and a street; it was beautiful.
Baba and mama have also done a great job of teaching me Chinese any time they have the opportunity; I also have been teaching them English as well. As I said before, they are very humble people, and will not admit to their abilities in English. It has also been very touching that they have told anyone and everyone that I am their "son." "Ta shi wo de ir ze" ("He is my son"). In fact, this evening (before our walk), we went to this one place to eat. As usual, I get stares and people seem to have interest in me. Naturally, they ask Lily's parents about me. There is no lie, they tell them I am their son. In response, the people say "zhen de??," which means "really??" No explanation, baba and mama just nod their heads, implying "yes."
Around this same time, we also passed a game on the street, whereby you are supposed to toss rings on several rows of items; these items range from pottery to ash trays. Both baba and I tried our hand at the game. Baba almost got a tray his first try; he, unfortunately, didn't end up with anything. However, I gave it a shot, and after several failures, I finally landed the ring on a ceramic container; I told baba and mama right away that I would give it to Meng Ying :)
In no way do I want to imply that everything is all happy and nice without Lily, but the beauty does lie in saying goodbye. We all come to realize how much we love one another when we are faced with "goodbye." In some ways, seeing a person off for a year, who will be going to another country, is like saying goodbye forever; this feeling, at least, is temporary. But, we know we will see the person again. Our love, though, -- the beautiful part -- comes out in our tears. Lao lao really loves Lily, mama and baba love her to death, as do I. We all shared tears with one another; it was very beautiful.
As I have said before, this was one reason I went through with my decision. I needed to know how much I would miss my family and friends. I feel that I had become too comfortable, seeing my friends freely, and not giving enough effort to see my family in Texas. I apologize Aunt Sandy and Peggy, Uncle Tommy, Liz, Tim and Cindy -- I realize how important you all are in my life now. One thing China has made me realize is that family is very important. My missing you all has reminded me of how beautiful my relationship is with you all.
And, not just with my family, I needed to know how much I love Lily. I do not believe it is premature to say, but I feel already that my love for her is true. I will wait for her -- take everyone's advice that "if it is meant to be, it will be." I will continue to work hard at learning Chinese, so I can one day talk to she and her family in Chinese. I will also continue to see her parents every week, and help them out with their new apartment. This will all be very exciting, I will continue to grow in my Chinese and in my relationship with Lily's parents. I will also be able to see the new apartment before the end of the year!
Hang in there Lily tuzi, I will be strong for you, and I will keep your family's heart happy until you come back home! We will grow together, and we will cheer you on for your last semester! Once you have accomplished it, we will cross our fingers for you finding a great new job ^_^
Well, time to go to bed soon, baba mama and I will be going to my university tomorrow. I will finally be able to find out my teaching schedule for next week, and I will possibly also be able to see the campus where I will be teaching. Classes start next Monday, I'm nervous, but I believe I will do well!
PS Sorry for my lack of promptness in responding to emails, I will work hard at responding much sooner!