Tearless I Shall Be

I trace the raindrops as they race against each other, down the window, to the finish line. The exhausted, but cooperative plopping of the rain, one after another, soon accumulates into a big puddle, which is just the beginning of a river that will eventually make its way to the ocean. Perseverance, determination, and ambition will always be the boat that stays afloat through storms that toss and turn. Just as the raindrops could turn from one drop into an ocean, as the eldest daughter in my family, I’ve been blessed with a mother, who, like the raindrops, always strived for that “ocean” of ever flowing dreams and opportunities. Her willpower is displayed in the different roles she has takes on: daughter, mother, wife, bacon-winner, and role model.
When I was young I was oblivious to all of these characteristics and what my mom does for me. As I grew, I realize I was blind: lacking appreciation for everything she does, but also carrying the presumption of deserving the tiny bits of what she sacrifices for her family’s happiness. Her childhood in Taiwan wasn’t easy; losing my grandfather at 19 and helping her widowed mother to take care of three younger siblings shaped her to toughen up to the scraps and bruises life can inflict. Each part of her life was her sacrificing bits and pieces of her own dreams for the sake of rebuilding her family. But I saw that the sacrifices never did take away from her dreams. Sometimes I saw the scars and sad memories echoed in her voice but it is the strength and the feeling of accomplishment that shines through. In these negative experiences, she still kept her positive energy and the push to achieve success. It is her ability to overcome all of the pain and sadness that helped me to understand, success is not defined by what she does, but how she does it. I learned that in the face of adversity I cannot run away but find ways to survive. Instead of letting grief drag her down, my mom gathered up her strength to bring her family out of a nightmare that seemed like it would go on forever.
I didn’t know that her strength had its layers to it, until Cancer festered like an unwanted guest, taking up space in our family. During the start of her cancer treatments, she endured and kept silent as to what kind of pain she was holding in. This kind of strength was only one layer. Strength is harder to keep when I wanted to hide in a corner to cry. But I knew that I needed to quickly mature and toughen up so I can wipe her tears away with smiles. This was when I started to learn to be outspoken, independent, and hardened against Cancer and everything else that came in between.

I thought Cancer had won in these moments where my mom displayed her broken spirit and frustration. Even before Cancer, like a sudden hurricane flooded the boat, I saw her twenty years of opening a business began, and I was so proud that I could be part of it. But the dream was abruptly interrupted and the nightmare raged. I worked as hard I could to help her, all the while praying that somehow the cancer would realize how much I needed her and would leave her alone. Cancer was making its home, leaving its hideous marks on my mom’s face, eyes, and body. Appointment after appointment, her body was gradually giving in to the pain, in which tears, stains on her cheeks, seemed they were here to stay. It was at this point, I realized how much I’ve taken for granted. I wished I was older, I wish I had more money, I wished this and that, I wanted be the one to take care of her and help take on some of her suffering.

The reflection of her person and all of her accomplishments gave me insight on how I am going to lead my life. She gave me my driving force of courage and inspiration. Her success wasn’t materialistic, her victory wasn’t just for herself because everything she experienced was the act of helping others first. Looking at her I learned I can help people by sharing how my mom influenced me; the hope that she showed me, even in times where hope didn’t seem to exist.
Now, tears no longer stain my face, for not only have I matured but also grew stronger, molded by my experiences, my environment, and my mom. I witnessed my mom, who strong in will as Hercules was strong in muscles; pick herself back up in the face of death, hopelessness, and defeat. Her undying motivation and perseverance shaped how I will take what life has to offer. What she has taught me, I see reverberated in this school’s values of leadership. The molding of its students: to become not experts in what they learn, but also knowing the value of each student’s “rough edges”; teaching, how each student can achieve their own success no matter how rough the ocean may be.

Like the rain drops that almost seem to fall continuously from the sky, darkening the pavement, soil, and eventually contributing its share in the ocean, my mom also contributed to my growing ocean of experiences. She inspired me to make the impossible, possible and pushed me to be unlike any other student. From my mom’s stories and experiences that make up who she is and her legacy, I will wipe away the tears and triumph through my ambitions. As I am about to start the race, I will cross the finish line as my mother’s daughter, with the dried tears of those moments that break me down and build me up, and as one of the raindrops that will fall into the ocean that will mark my future success.

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