Gratitude in Grief – 100 days and 26 years

three bunches of flowers in front of two grave markers

I just want to pause to tell my community thank you.

It was an incredibly long day.

There was much emotion.

It was my daughter’s 100th day of kindergarten. The 100th day celebration was new to me when my son had it 9 years ago (and actually had it in both kindergarten and 1st grade, in Chinese and then in English, but I digress), but this time, we were prepared. In spite of 100 days of distance learning, her outstanding teacher put together a beautiful at-home celebration package including a Korean-English 100 days crown & a silicone 100 days bracelet. We added 100 go stones for our girl to count. She had a great day.

It was the 26th anniversary of my mom’s death today. Time was suspended 26 years ago, as my mom passed on a Friday when there was no school, giving me a full weekend of weird liminality before I went back to my normal life (I really don’t know what happened that weekend, where I slept, what I did). The day, I remember, but I remember its emptiness, rather than any fullness. I remember myself trying to record the memories of those moments in my mind because I knew I wouldn’t be the same after.

Today, however, was a day like many others — full of meetings: some I attended, some I led, some I engaged in, as if I was my whole self, today, which I am never really fully on this day of the year. Sometimes I pretend, like I did today, because my schedule is full and I could not avoid the normalcy. In better years (perhaps not in global pandemics), I give myself more grace and space. Today, my schedule was full, but in more moments than not, my heart was empty. I will likely not record any memories of today except that it is the 100 days celebration of my last baby and it fell on the anniversary of my mother’s death.

What I am grateful for, however, is the space to speak my truth, and the openness to receive love of those who walk alongside me in love and in grief.

This morning, already exhausted, I posted on Twitter about the emotions of today. I immediately received many messages of love and solidarity. Throughout the day, friends texted and messaged me to check on me, offering to talk if I needed anything. My husband ordered me food although I did not feel like eating. My children made me laugh. In one of my many meetings, I reconnected with a former credential student who it was a joy to hear from again. I got to participate in a community chat that reminded me to reclaim my leadership even in moments of vulnerability.

There are sparks of joy in the sorrow.

February 3 is never easy for me.

It is always heavy, and usually hard.

But it reminds me of the deep roots that cannot be breached by death, roots of love and of ancestry, of strength of character and survival, of freedom and faith, of community and support.

So I end today sad, as is to be expected, but grounded in gratitude, and buoyed by love. My mother’s love, my family’s love, my community’s love.

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