I’ve just watched a video clip of the Ouyoung family tearfully saying their goodbyes to each other as their young daughter Nana prepares to leave Taiwan for the United States. She will be pursuing her studies at the Curtis Institute of Music for the next decade, with hopes of becoming a professional cellist in the future.
As I watched them, suddenly- as if someone had flicked on a light switch, my heart became heavy laden with sorrow. A mysterious fluid also began to blur my vision as it struggled to remain contained within the orbits of my eyes.
The anguish of farewell from 10 years ago that I’d buried into the deepest depths of my heart was instantaneously resurrected and it surged through my very being. I remember the tears, I remember the heartache, I remember the pain of being torn away from the people I love most and the things that I held dearest. I remember the nauseating homesickness I felt in the days before I even left. I remember the regret of not being able to grow up & grow old with my brother and parents. I remember the mind-numbing loneliness of going away to a strange place where I knew no one and owned nothing. I remember the wailing, the whimpering, and the salty taste of tears in my mouth.
I completely understand the Ouyang family’s grief. I know that feeling far too well. So many years on, I still feel the same agony every time I wave my loved ones goodbye. Compared to the complete breakdown I used to suffer at the airport, my emotions now are more controlled as I quietly shed a tear or two as I turn away from my family. Nevertheless, the pain is no less than it was a decade ago– with all these cruel years of practice, I have simply become much better at hiding the symptoms of my weeping heart.
10 years! I cannot believe it has been 10 years since I left my old life behind. I left my childhood, my dependency, my comfortable place. I left all that I had but 30 kilograms of luggage and a big dream. I left home as an impressionable teenager, but hopefully someday soon, I can return home a confident woman with fulfilled dreams and a faith stronger than ever. I want my family to be proud, and for us all to know that the years of tears and heartache have all been worth it.