Harder Than the Last

December 27, 2011
By
On the day I was set to finally leave Vietnam to return home, the events of that morning changed me for the better. We were visiting my grandfather in the hospital because he had recently got in a motorcycle accident. We couldn’t extend our visit so the best thing we could do was to spend our last few hours with him. When we were there, my grandfather had started to give my brothers and me life lessons like respecting our parents, excelling in school, and so on. Our last hour had finally come, so we started to say our goodbyes. At first it was the same as any other goodbye but when my father had hugged my grandfather, a strange vibe had filled the room. It seemed as if we were in a standstill, everyone was quiet and no one moved. I looked over to my grandfather and I noticed that tears were rolling down his face when he hugged my father. When I witnessed that, I started to feel the tears build up in my eyes too. Soon enough my father's tears started to form and so did everyone else’s. There wasn't a dry eye in the room.

Small moments like this made me realize that even the smallest things in life could make a big difference. At first, I hated the idea of visiting Vietnam, even if it was just a summer. I guess I was mad because I missed out on life back home. Everything back home was going great and I did not want to leave it. I have to admit, I was foolish. I didn't realize that I was missing out on so much in Vietnam , five years worth at that. Not only was I foolish, but I was also selfish.

At the beginning of this trip, I didn’t think of anyone except for myself. I was constantly marking days off the calendar until my departure back home. My family in Vietnam catered to all of my needs but all I did was shoot them a smirk and a small “Thank You”. Hmph, how rude. I couldn’t even show them that I was thankful by keeping a genuine smile on my face or show them that I was actually enjoying the short time that I had with them. On the other hand, they always had a smile on their face because they were just happy that my family was visiting. We brought gifts but they didn’t care. As the old saying would go, they would rather have our presence than our presents. I should have realized it from the beginning but I was blinded by the artificial happiness that I believed I wanted back home, but in reality true happiness was staring me in the face.
It’s pretty sad that I didn’t realize all of this until the end of my vacation because I could have had a better experience, not only for myself but also for my family in Vietnam. Even though, I didn’t get the experience that I wanted, I still got something just as meaningful. I gained a sense of knowledge, which is just as good. I learned that it isn’t always about me and that I should enjoy life by looking at the small things. In addition to that, this trip had also helped me grasp the meaning of a real goodbye. All my life I knew goodbyes were hard, but I didn't think this one would be so difficult because I was so ready to go home. It didn't matter that my time in Vietnam was just another mediocre trip but it was the fact that I had a chance to bond with so many family members in such a little amount of time. It’s heart wrenching that I only get to see them every five years but that’s what makes every single goodbye harder than the last because it just might be the last.





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