Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let It Go

If you've been watching the news at all lately, no doubt you've noticed that the MH370 updates have been replaced by the horrific Korean ferry tragedy. And if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you probably noticed that I love Korea. I considered it a second home. It's why I felt so comfortable teaching at a Korean school here in China. I know the culture. The food. And I know a bit of the language too.

The disaster with the ferry made my heart ache because for one thing, I'm a mom. For another, I'm a teacher. I understand this pain that the families feel and I am so sorry for their loss.

Despite that everyone grieves in their own way, I was perplexed by the Education Ministry in Korea banning all school field trips until at least June. You can read about that here and find many more articles about it in a simple Google search. I know that many parents are concerned about big overnight trips right now, and perhaps now is not the best time for students to take them. But even day trips are being banned. That's right. No trips to the parks or the zoos or anything of the sort.

My school has decided to jump on this bandwagon as well and thus, our plans for Children's Day on May 5th have been changed. Instead of enjoying a gorgeous spring picnic at one of the nearby parks, we'll be doing something at school, most likely involving a few games, some crafts and face-painting. Last year, the principal cancelled our spring picnic because of the bird flu (even though she didn't care if they played outside on the soccer field or playground where birds can also get to). This year, it's because a ship of students sadly sunk into the sea.

I mean absolutely no disrespect regarding this incident. It is incredibly sad and if the captain hadn't been such a coward, coupled with how Korean culture forbids you from questioning authority, perhaps this would have been an entirely different turn of events. But as it stands now, 150 people have been confirmed dead and another 152 are still missing. In Korean culture, it is all about being a whole unified group. So even for people who didn't know any of those aboard this doomed ship, they are mourning as well. I get this about Korea and Koreans and I feel them, truly I do.

That being said, I find it a bit much to ban ALL trips. Even day trips? How do your kids get to and from school? What if the bus they take to and from school has an accident? If you drive them, what if YOU have an accident? Shouldn't you keep your children home if you're so worried that something horrible might happen to them out in the world? What if some idiot in your building leaves the gas on and blows it up?

Before you think I'm so harsh, I'll have you know that death terrifies me. It frightens me to my core and to even think of something happening to my daughter, my husband, my brother, my parents, or any of my relatives or friends, makes me ill. What if this? What if that? If you know me personally, you know that as excited as I am to have my second child, I am completely freaked out about having a second c-section. What if I die? What if something happens to Raelynn while I'm in the hospital recovering? What if? What if? WHAT IF????

We - and by we I mean all of us, especially myself - need to let go of that fear. Because fearing everything isn't living, is it? If I spend my days freaking out about the what ifs, then I miss the beautiful moments in between now and my time to go, which I hope and pray isn't until I'm old and senile and while I'm sleeping. And God forbid it isn't, then I've wasted precious time panicking about something I potentially can not control.

Every day when we leave for work, I hug and kiss my husband goodbye. And I hold my daughter tight. Because if something awful should happen to any of us that is beyond my control, I can at least make the moments I have with the people that make my world complete wonderful memories. And if all goes well, I store up a collection of beautiful moments that make me smile when I'm having a rough day at work. It's these sweet moments that make our lives worth living.

I've lost enough family and friends in my life to know the sting of death. It leaves a scar that never goes away. I can't live every moment afraid that people I love will suddenly cease to be. Or think that way about myself. Which I sometimes need to remind myself about. Bad things happen in this world and there are risks to be had in every single thing we do, from eating to swimming to driving to flying, and being so terrified of them that you don't live your life is no way to spend the time you've got. It's like a prison of your own making. I'm guilty for being my own warden at times in my life. But as I look at my daughter, so happy and full of life, so friendly and open each day, I know that for her sake, I must drop these heavy suitcases filled with my fears and just let it go. 

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