My mom celebrated her birthday this past weekend.
Between my mom and me, there are many stories. However, for some strange reason, the only one that echoed in my mind during the birthday dinner was the day she taught me how to tell time. I remember sitting in her room, staring at a clock as if it had just landed on planet earth. She explained over and over again: long hand, short hand, hour hand, minute hand. All of it made no sense to my 8 year old brain.
I remember my mom leaving me. I sat there alone with the burgundy alarm clock. With tears streaming down my face, I thought about how unfair this all was. I thought about how irresponsible my mom was for not explaining the clock to me one more time. I thought about breaking the dumb clock. Yet in that moment of frustration, judgement and anguish, I figured it out: long hand, short hand, hour hand, minute hand. I suddenly knew it like the back of my hand.
Now sitting in the restaurant, I realized my mom left that day not because she gave up, but because she believed. She knew I would get it even though if it meant I would hate her for it. She knew I would prevail even though if it entailed witnessing the suffering of her own son. She knew life was, and will be unfair, even though if I did not like it. Behind all this knowledge was a certain level of courage. It is the same courage that carried her through the abuse in her own childhood, the burden of illness, and the hardship of raising two sons in a foreign land. It is the same courage she showed us time and time again: long hand, short hand, hour hand, minute hand.
I can only hope to be as brave as her one day.