Hallmark kind of love

Emerging from the darkness of the pandemic, from the loss of loved ones because of and during the pandemic, the Universe reminds us to hold on tight to our families where Light radiates in the tightest embrace. 

As an older cousin attending a younger cousin's wedding, I used to think, Oh a reason to celebrate love and get dressed up too! Our family lost a wonderful woman to covid at the beginning of the pandemic. Before vaccines were available. She was the groom's mother. The bride lost her father at the beginning of the year. So this past weekend's wedding celebration was far from a simple affair. It was emotionally heartwarming and bittersweet. 

I remember when the groom messaged us during the Christmas holidays, a year since the last time we spent Christmas together, it would be the last time we would see his mom, to share that he and his longtime girlfriend had gotten engaged. He sent us a photo of the ring along with a photo of the bride-to-be. Welcome news during a pandemic!

Loss, loving and celebrating in the midst of a pandemic is an entirely different beast as we continue to navigate our way through risk taking and comfort levels. Not only has it caused tremendous anxiety, depression and much stress, we have had to accept the cost of loved ones' lives lost, more than a million covid deaths in the United States alone. I would have never envisioned that Christmas 2019 would be the last time I would laugh in wild merriment with Manang Meng. Grief tells us to hold on tightly to our families. May we never forget to do so. The only ones who truly understand are those who have lost their loved ones unexpectedly during the reign of covid.

A son who lost his beloved mother knows. He adored his mother in a way you could never imagine, always channeling her love for music in his creative musicianship. I remember how doting she was on both her son and daughter. She was her kids' heroine. Then the day comes when she notices a spark between a longtime family friend and her son, and she lovingly embraces her son's new love for another woman, who is not her. Next thing you know, they're bonding and cooking meals in the kitchen. She too has deep affection for this familiar young woman, also a nurse, who loves her son and would be the one to see her in her unexpected final moments. 

So we love hard on Michelle and Neal during their wedding celebration. Love so fiercely as we feel Manang Meng's presence in the delicately pinned photo of his mother that the groom wears on the sleeve of his barong. Love so tenderly as we weep softly for the bride who longingly misses her father on her wedding day. Love so deeply in the ongoing squeezes through the evening with the father of the groom, bride and groom, and all of our family.  

To love and to cherish . . . as much as we can.