I think about all the things I've experienced in life so far – growing up, school, dance, relationships, even trauma – there's already so much...
And in the grand scheme of things, it's only just the beginning.
By the time I'm ready to have children, then by the time they're ready to have grandchildren, I'll have twice or three times that much experience.
It makes me wonder what my grandma was like before I entered her life.
Was she always a giver?
Everyone thinks that they're special.
Everyone likes to believe that they mean a little something extra to someone else.
But I know that I did, to my grandma. I know that she loved me especially.
We share the same birthday – decades apart, but check our birth certificates – November 20th.
I always liked to think of this coincidence as more than coincidence. Like it was a bond that was forged beyond our control.
She had always been inextricably, undeniably tied to my very existence.
She showed her love through giving. And her favorite thing to give was food.
I remember coming home from elementary school to rice and Vienna sausages, with strips of kimchi carefully laid out on the circumference of the plate.
Now that I think about it, there was so much intent involved in her preparation. She made it as easy as possible for us to eat.
I stopped eating when I was 14. I was severely underweight, depressed, and had no appetite for food or for life.
This baffled her more than I could probably imagine. Why, when so many people are struggling to put food on the table, would I refuse the delicious feasts she loved preparing for me? That I had, for the rest of my life, previously devoured without a second thought?
Once I recovered, I made it a point to visit my grandma regularly. Hungry or not, I graciously, voraciously gobbled up whatever she cooked.
It was not a contrived act – she wanted to give, and I wanted to receive. And I wanted to show her how sorry I was for worrying her. I wanted to show her how determined I was to get better.
I wanted to let her love me the way she knew how.
My grandma had the greenest thumbs I've ever seen. In her old house, she took pride in her beautiful front and back yards – fruits, vegetables, flowers full of life and promise.
We'd eat meals made from home grown veggies, pick aloe for our sunburns, and marvel at how those weird purple flowers could grow as tall as us.
When she moved and grew less able to tend, she kept only a small collection of plants in her patio.
I visited as often as I could, always with a mixed bouquet of flowers in hand.
Only the tight, not-yet bloomed flowers, though.
She didn't like them for decoration; she liked watching them blossom.
She liked witnessing the infusion of life into something that was but a seed.
It makes my heart hurt trying to imagine how she much she loved watching me grow.
Our days of birth. The fact that she literally gave birth to my mother, who gave birth to me. The way she fed me like it was her job to keep me alive. The careful hands that watered, nurtured, and rejoiced at growing plants.
She gave life.
She gave all of us life.
Naturally – as nature goes, life transitions to death.
But she is riiiiight here.
And surprisingly for someone as forgetful as I am, I'm not worried about ever forgetting her.
She gave me life, after all.
I lived in her, as she lives in me.
My mom, my uncles, and all of our cousins, her friends and neighbors.
She lives here now, in us.
And I know she wants to see us keep growing.