"I have a strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate - it's apathy. It's not giving a damn."
I heard memories of my parents’ childhood: the story of a young girl suffering from days of repeated zombie nightmares after an unfortunate encounter with a hospital morgue; the capers of a young boy—somewhere under the same sky as the girl—who decided to leave home in his dad’s oversized slippers, found eating ramen with police officers having not acare in the world. Recognizing that my parents were once children too used to be one of my simple pleasures in life. Although I understood that they possessed distinct personalities, strengths and weaknesses as anyone else, it wasn’t until my father stopped loving my mom—betrayed her—that I learned to see my parents as truly human.
That summer, I became my mom’s best friend. I listened to her but remained silent, and after a certain point, Mom misinterpreted my silence as indifference. My reticence was initially intended to be a way for me to shield her from my own pain and an encouragement for her to share hers. But after many days of the same kind of listening, I involuntarily and inescapably got tired of it all—her incessant confiding pleas, even her tears, the whole situation and the sudden lack of sense of family. She was right. I had become indifferent.
One afternoon, I had deliberately gotten home late from volleyball practice. Mom trailed behind me into my room and plopped herself down on my bed saying the things that I had already heard so many times before—then suddenly, she stood up mid-sentence and walked out, only to come back soon after. Before I even bothered to turn around, she had taken a picture of my father out from a shoebox, then another, and then another. She laid them all on my bed and pointed to one.
My eyes swept over the many pictures floating like lily pads on my bed then focused on the one picture she was now holding.
“Look at his eyes, Jeanette.”
I could see. I could see the love in his eyes and the love in Mom’s eyes too, both in the picture and as she sat there gazing into the picture, her eyes open wide to keep the tears from falling. The picture came to life. I heard the seagulls, the beach bustling with people, the waves behind them crawling up and down the white sand with their usual calming swashes and ripples. I saw Dad carefully balancing the camera on a pole, pressing the button, and dashing back to Mom, embracing her into his arms just in time, as the flash went off and their memory was forever captured still. I was crying. I was crying so silently that I almost wasn't crying at all.
I was ashamed, for I was insensitive to my mom’s feelings, and I was pained, for I could now comprehend but still could not truly share my mom’s sorrow. As my tears dried, I became human too, and a more mature, stronger individual.