Dearest Yang, Pt. 5

I have so many pictures of our kids, but this is the only one I have of us together…IMG_0610Remember when I stopped by to visit you on my way back from the doctor’s office, after I had gotten my cancer diagnosis? I knew you’d just had surgery, but we didn’t realize until then that we both had cancer. It was so terrible to discover that we were both going through the same thing, but it was also a comfort to have a friend who truly understood.

Remember how we texted back and forth comparing appointment schedules, biopsies, and scans, and how we tried to fit in visits in between? Remember the time we spent together as you were undergoing chemo treatments? Sometimes we chatted, sometimes I just sat next to you while you slept. Sometimes we continued our conversations over lunch after your infusion was finished.

Remember when you had your son drive you to my house to visit me after my surgery? You were still weak from undergoing treatment, but you wanted to bring food to me. Remember how you asked, “Are you ok with pig feet?” Yang! Could you tell I was having a bit of a panic attack trying to figure out how to politely say that I didn’t think I’d be able to eat pig feet?! (I’m so sorry)! Remember how when I was worrying about what was going to happen to me you texted me: “I am together with you“? Yang, even though we can’t see each other right now, I am together with you too. Thank you for being such a good friend to me. When we see each other again, let’s take another picture together, OK?

xoxoxo,
Adrienne

 

 

Dearest Yang, Pt. 4

Just a quick note today…Remember the Lunar New Year party you had at your house a couple years ago? It was both exhilarating and terrifying! I wrote about it here…

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If I had a lantern to light this evening, my wish would be for good health: for you, for my own family, and for everyone around the world who is suffering right now.

Thank you for being a light in this exhilarating and terrifying life, my dear friend. We’ll get through this dark night together.

“Though we are far, our hearts our near.”

Love,
Adrienne

Dearest Yang, Pt. 3

Remember when you and Stefan taught us how to make German potato pancakes?

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Your boys knew exactly what to do and confidently got down to business.

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Whereas my kids looked a little dubious!

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They eventually got the hang of it!

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I’m pretty sure this was the first time I ever let the kids handle sharp knives!

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Thankfully, no digits were lost in pursuit of potato pancakes that evening!

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After all that hard work, the kids demolished those pancakes in the blink of an eye! I’m sure they tasted even better, because they all took part in making them.

After dinner, your boys taught my kids how to play Settlers of Catan.

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Let’s do this again when social distancing is a distant memory. We can have the party at my house this time. Maybe we’ll make Korean pancakes (pajeon)! I’ll have to get a recipe from my mom…

I miss you, and am thinking about you all the time. Please stay strong! I’ll write again tomorrow.

Love,
Adrienne

Dearest Yang, Pt. 2

Isn’t it funny that we both have three kids who are all in the same grades and have often been classmates?

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Remember how our youngest ones met in Kindergarten? You laughed when you told me how your son would crow about my daughter’s soccer exploits. He would brag to you about how she had scored ten goals in one game.

IMG_0608Remember the funny story you told me about the assignment they had to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up? I loved how you bubbled over with laughter when you told me your son said he wanted to be a cook so that he could make delicious soup for my daughter.

“And what does she want to be when she grows up?” you asked.

“A lawyer!” he said.

One day my daughter came home from Kindergarten looking a little perturbed.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“There’s a boy in my class and he’s telling everyone we’re going to get married and it’s so embarrassing!”

Of course it turned out that it was your son.

What a silly girl not to realize she had what we all dream of  having: someone willing to dedicate his life to our happiness!

You’ve raised such sweet and generous children, my dear friend. They are a beautiful reflection of their mother’s spirit.

It’s late and it’s been a long day. I spent most of it giving travel signatures to students in face masks anxious to get home to their families around the world. I went shopping to stock up on groceries in case there are none the next time I venture to the store. My oldest son stepped off the train this evening at 7:30. Who knows when he’ll get back to New York? Has your son returned home yet? I hope so! Doesn’t it feel good to have everyone together again back in the nest, even though it’s under trying circumstances?

I am sending you lots of love and thinking about what I will write for you tomorrow…

Love,
Adrienne

 

 

Dearest Yang,

 

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I’ve been trying to remember when we first met…Was it nine or ten years ago when you first moved to Charlottesville from Germany and our boys became friends at school? This is the earliest photo I can find of our two boys together.

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They look like they could be brothers…

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At elementary school graduation

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2012

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2012

I think our boys were glad to have each other through their last years at elementary school. Being a non-white student in a rural community with little diversity can be hard. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been for your son to go from a German school to an American one. Remember when you told me he never uttered a single word at school and I was shocked, because he never ceased talking at our house? I loved hearing his perfectly unique, lilting Chinese-German accent. Our boys are both sensitive dreamers, who have always marched to the beat of their own drums. Remember how we used to laugh and sigh about their shockingly messy backpacks? And to discover they both never knew what their homework assignments were, and that when they miraculously did manage to complete their homework assignments, they both scrupulously forgot to turn them in? Remember when my boy started to learn Chinese, and we talked about him going with your family to visit China one day? Remember how we discovered they both had a passion for music? We tried (as meddlesome parents are wont to do) to get them to play the piano together. We failed, of course.

I’ve been so glad for your friendship over the years. Like our boys, we have a lot of similarities…Maybe we look like we could be sisters? We both married academics from other countries, and followed them to Charlottesville. But you have always been braver and more resilient than I am. I don’t think I could have made the move from China to the U.S. to Germany and back to the U.S. again with three young children in tow. I have always appreciated and admired your open-hearted spirit. I have always loved hearing your generous laugh. Your friendship has been a treasure to me, especially during these last couple of years, which have been difficult for both us. Many of the things that used to bring me joy (like writing) have fallen by the wayside. I wanted to come visit you this week, but I worried about your health. You told me to stay at home, because you worried about mine. You said, “I have to keep you healthy. I like to read what you write to me.” And so this week I will write for you, my dear friend. More tomorrow…

Love,
Adrienne

 

 

Advent

We didn’t get around to doing everything we usually do in the lead up to Christmas. Our advent calendars never got hung, the little decorative trees we usually put out never emerged from their long hibernation in a cabinet somewhere, we never recorded a song for the annual holiday video we make in lieu of a Christmas card…

I apologized to the kids for this year’s lapses. My daughter regretfully noted that it might be her big brother’s last year to experience the traditions we failed to keep. He graciously consoled us by saying, “We’re just so busy…”

The day before we left for our annual pilgrimage to Princeton for the holidays, our Christmas tree still hadn’t been decorated. I delivered a holiday edict with a bellow that I’m sure could be heard at the North Pole: “GET PACKED UP, CLEAN UP YOUR ROOMS, AND GET THAT TREE DECORATED BY THE TIME I GET HOME FROM WORK!!!!”

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A bit rough around the edges, but it’s done.

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We may not have gotten around to everything, but we did observe a few of our favorite traditions, including the annual Christmas party at our friends’ house.

When my roommate Janel & I were in graduate school together, we decided to start a singing group. Two young tenors strolled into our apartment on Riverside Drive and auditioned with a rendition of Dona Nobis Pacem sung in a round. We let them into the group and into our hearts.

On Saturday evening, over twenty years later, we gathered together with our children and sang Dona Nobis as a prayer before dinner.

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We decorated cookies…

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…and sang Christmas carols:

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As we were leaving to head back to Arlington, my friend showed us a special ornament in the shape of a book. They’ve been inscribing Christmas memories in it for years. Craig showed us the page for 1999, a year we all met up in Princeton. Our oldest son was in utero at the time. We didn’t know if he would be a boy or a girl, but we had nicknamed him “Sh’Diamond”!

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En route to Princeton the next day, we spotted another couple who were taking a rest from their travels at the Delaware Welcome Center…IMG_2396IMG_2400IMG_2408

Tonight we’ll watch the cousins in their Christmas pageant, we’ll return to the house for Christmas eve dinner, and then my sisters and I will retreat to the office for our traditional sisters’ gift-wrapping marathon into the wee hours…

We couldn’t get around to everything this year, but here we are!

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more
Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
So hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

 

Thankful

When one of your dearest friends moves far away and you don’t get to see her very often, and she tells you she’ll be in town for Thanksgiving, but you’re going to be in New Jersey, and you’re devastated, but at the last minute you figure out a way to see her for just a few hours, but you worry that it’s been so long since you’ve seen each other and things may have changed and then this happens…img_2109img_2108img_2107img_2106…and you have one more thing to be thankful for this year.