I was so sure there was never going to be another year as deeply engraved in my memory as 2008. That year, an earthquake struck in May, sending heaven and earth into confusion, but planting a nation ever firmer onto the ground. In June, my friends and I passed the college entrance examination, and closed a chapter of our lives that had been driven by dreams, stamped with diligence, and cross linked by friendship. August, the whole country erupted into flames of joy as a century-old dream was fulfilled with the opening of the Olympics. So soon after the earthquake, it was proof, living proof, that we could, and did, emerge into a new birth like that of the phoenix. Early September, I boarded the train with my two suitcases and a head full of visions and dreams. My destination, the city whose name echoed with the ring of a magic charm, Beijing. It was a year of faith and change, of dreams killed and fulfilled, of much laughter and joy, and of growing up. I was sure, so sure, that nothing could ever dictate my emotions so strongly again.
Yet in 2009, as I stood in Tian’anmen Square, marching to the sound of music, playing my part in the celebration of the birthday of my country, tears flowed freely and I thought my heart would just burst with pride. 2010 saw me off on a plane, leaving behind everything I’d ever known and cared about, even the soil that defined without doubt who I am and was and will be, departing on a journey that taught me important lessons in faith, courage and life. In 2011, I fell in love, and journeyed with love to the depth of despair and height of joy. But 2012 came and now is finished, and the memories of 2012 had beaten them all.
In 2012, I received my first real pay check, graduated from not one, but two universities, saw Mocha twice, received six grad school offers, and had adopted a cat for 69 days. I live with my cat in a city busy by day and glittering by night, occasionally sharing the comforts of our home with visiting friends. And now, as I survey my small domain, I am filled with a quiet satisfaction and a sense of rightness. Growing up had an equal share of pains and gains, and I am not quite done yet, but the past 366 days has seen me take a giant leap forward, teetered, but still on my feet.
At the end of the year, there is always much to give thanks for. Yet this year, I think of my family, and how fragile happiness is and why it must always be treasured. My family has always been to me a source of joy and pride. It is the perfect family of four, united with love within and excelling at what we do outside of family life. In May 2012, as we were anticipating my upcoming graduation, an accident happened that struck at our very heart. Mom had an accident that damaged her spine. Had the damage been a few centimeters down, she would’ve been paralyzed for life. We were thrown into momentary terror and confusion as the axis of our family, around whom we operate and rotate, lay immobile on a bed in the hospital. Tentatively we said our prayers and counted our chances. It was a fear that winded the soul and gripped the spirit, so that one dare not hope, yet dare not lose hope. It became apparent to me then how easily our joy and happiness could be lost, how the words of admiration that had once surrounded us could turn just as easily into words of sympathy and pity. God can give and God can take. This time He is merciful, Mom is almost completely recovered and has again taken up the reins around the house, and for this, we offer daily prayers of thanks.
And in my prayers of thanksgiving I do not forget Mocha, who is certainly a gift. In 2012, we were physically together for 32 days. Scarcely enough for two souls in love, but by the grace of God we have learned and gained so much. By March 2012, we had been apart for 10 whole months. Nearly 300 days of waiting and hoping, over 7000 hours of longing and believing, and suddenly, he was here. Taller than I remembered, with a smile that shot straight to the soul. The nerves from anticipation that had me in its grip the entire afternoon fled, and we were suddenly side by side, hand in hand, as if we’d never said goodbye. From March 4th-25th, we shared a world apart, a world that did not exist save in each other. It was not all happiness and joy, but it was growing in each other, and growing in love. And again, from August 10th-21st, we caught on camera mountains, rivers, caves, and young love. The thought that there is someone out there who dares to cross oceans and scale mountains for me, fills me with a warmth and glow like no other.
Yet, this had also been a year of tests and trials, of seeking and not finding, of disappointments. Starting alone in a new city had been difficult, the responsibilities of adult life overwhelming, the strangeness and coldness suffocating, and the silence of God terrifying. But someone had once said, one who goes doggedly on when frightened near out of her wits shows greater bravery than the warrior who charges into battle without thinking of the odds, and so I pushed on, despite all. Perhaps even now I have nothing worthy to show yet, but in my heart, I am confident it will not always be so, for the Lord is my strength and defense.
Just today, I said goodbye to Meng as we each go our separate ways again, having renewed a friendship that started when we were 7, and saw us through joys and dangers and pursued us across oceans. As best friends, we are confident of the many rich memories to come. Also, at the eve of this New Year, as a family we await exciting news of another breakthrough in dad’s career, as a couple we anticipate times of joy and reunion in the near future, and as a child of God, I faithfully wait on Him, to make all things beautiful, in His time.