You know, in my family, we are not criers.
Before all this, I saw my mom cry once. It was in the 80s, the time she thought she lost her credit card. There was a frenzied search, the account cancelled and tears shed before an honest employee from Thom McCann at the Echelon Mall reported it found.
I saw my father cry once, too. 1995—we stood in the funeral home on the Krüselstraße, leaning into one another, our bodies wracked with stifled sobs as we buried his brother too soon.
And now in this—let’s call it tumultuous—year, there’s all this emotion at unpredictable times, and we don’t know what to do with it except to swat it away quickly, like a cobweb you walk into, unsuspecting. Keep moving, shake it off.
There in the hospital, minutes after the doctors confirmed our worst fears, I held it mostly together until she began to weep quietly, and then my uncle, choked with emotion, too, said to her, “You’re the best person I know,” as if this should not happen to her.
I cried a little harder, moved by the tremendous kindness in those words.
Later, I cried when my friends at work stood in the faculty room and enveloped me in hugs.
I cried when Mom cried because the tailor, a lovely Korean woman, upon hearing the news, rushed out to the passenger side of the car where Mom was waiting and apologized for not speaking “enough English.” Her brows twisted with concern, she put her palms together and said, “I pray.”
And then as Mom’s hair began to drop off in clumps and she decided to shave it, my cousin told her, “Einen schönen und liebevollen Menschen kann nichts entstellen.” A beautiful and loving human being cannot be disfigured. The beauty and truth and power of those words will be with me forever.
And so will each and every outpouring of love and care and warmth shown to us—so many more than those mentioned here.
Before all this, too often I thought about the worst of humanity and felt cynical about the future. But the truth is, there is much beauty out there.