Houa Lor
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13 Years Ago

13 Years Ago

Nov 02, 2023

13 years ago on this day, I wished my husband good thoughts to pass his midterms. 13 years ago, he was in school for his Master’s program, working a full time job and going to school full time at night. I saw him twice a week, took care of the babies and in between him starting school and graduating, delivered a baby where I pretty much had to take care of myself while he was gone. I was also in school myself. This was 13 years ago…when the house was quiet without his presence and he was upstairs, working on homework or at school working late with his team. By the time he came home, we were already sleeping and when we woke up, he was already gone for work.


It was hard…it was not easy and if you have travelled this path, you know exactly what I mean. I remembered holding my then two year old in my arm while reading my 16 page writing assignment and he instantly reached out to press a button and everything disappeared. I wanted to cry and yet when I looked at him, he just gave me the sweetest smile. I was frustrated, exhausted and burnt out. During this time, I was also going through my spiritual awakening and in this phase of my life was where I began writing the poetries collected in my award winning book, “A Collection of Tears.” I wrote everything I dreamt about, everything I saw, everything I felt just so it would be out of my head. But I was literally drowning and the walls hummed a lot of my pain. I had been going in and out of the hospital for things the medical world could not pick up and I was fighting an invisible force that had me hearing things deep in the night. All this while the world around me kept turning.


When I think about this time of my life, where the world around me was in complete darkness, and I felt very alone, I think about how I survived and it came down to the last light in me. The truth is, I was ready to throw in the towel, because I was so exhausted and overworked to the point of breaking. I cried every minute I could and hid everything from everyone. When I took photos, the smile was a ghostly reminder of what I tried to hide. I learned to keep things inside and not share it with people from past mistakes. The ones who had asked me to share, soon shared it with others, and others invented a new story to go with it. By the time it got back to my ears, I was listening to a foreign story starring me. I got really good at just writing everything down and hoping that it would go away. It never did but something else happened.


I mastered myself.


13 years ago, if I had given up the fight and let everything melt down, I wouldn’t have been able to fix the graduation gown on my husband as he walked to receive his degree. The degree he worked so hard on, forgetting to eat and sleep altogether. The degree that others told him was not worth going for at his age and to simply focus on his life. If I had given up the fight and let everything wither away, I wouldn’t have been able to keep the light and have what I have today. When I think back, 13 years ago, on this day where I said to my husband, “Good luck on your midterm tonight, honey,” I was building a life ahead of us. It was the next chapter we were building.


What is this about? This is about you and I working toward a greater good in our lives. This is about you and I working for the next part of our lives to become better than the last chapter we wrote. People will always find an excuse to bring you down because they can’t wait to trample upon your glory. Why give them the chance? When you are in a dark place with your spouse, remember what you both gave up to make sure the next part of your life is going to be better. Remember how no one stood up for you both and remember the loneliness that still exists today because the same people are hoping you will fail.

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