For a couple of years while living in Vietnam, Huyen's mother and aunt always teamed up to give me a hard time about moving to America with Huyen. The conversation went like this:
Huyen's Mother and Aunt: Don't move to America.
Me: I'm sorry but we're gonna go. I promise we'll visit as much as possible.
Huyen's Mother and Aunt: You found Huyen in Vietnam so you should stay in Vietnam.
Me: Okay, that's a fair point. But I think America has more opportunities when we have children. Plus, did I mention we'll come visit as much as possible? Also, you can come visit us in America.
This last line was directed at Huyen's mother and always got a giant laugh in response. To her, the idea was so far fetched it truly sounded like a joke. If you remember, this is the same woman who had never seen the ocean until we took her to the beach! Vietnam is a skinny country, lined by water on the east, and my mother-in-law had never gone to the beach! The beach is less than hundred miles from where she lives. Compare that to New Jersey which is ten thousand miles away. Yeah, the idea of visiting America was laughable. Was.
There's all types of bravery. My mother-in-law coming to America, truly is a special kind of brave. Despite not speaking a word of English and barely having traveled in her own country, she boarded a Korean Airlines flight two months ago and came to America. To say she was taking a dream vacation would be wrong. She never could have dreamed about coming to America.
The two months that my mother-in-law were here were amazing. It's hard to imagine a home being filled with more joy than having a newborn in it. Yet somehow, our level of happiness was raised each and every day by Huyen's mom. For Huyen, it was so special to be able to show her mother what her life is like in America. You could see the pride in Dung's eyes all the time. On one of her last days Huyen drove her around my parents' neighborhood. Dung got a little emotional and told Huyen that she was the first woman in their family to be able to drive a car. Luckily she didn't know that Huyen started the car with her foot on the accelerator and "turned off" the car while it was still in drive. For Shayna, it was two months of being doted over. If you think that you can't spoil a baby enough...you haven't met Dung. Shayna's eyes went wide every time she saw her grandma. The other night we skyped with my mother-in-law and Shayna stared at the computer wondering when she was going to be wrapped up in a blanket. For me, the joy came in watching my wife and daughter spend time with Dung. I kept telling Huyen that her and her mother were like two high school girls when they get together. They were always giggling together and sharing stories. I know half the time they were making fun of me but I didn't care. I found myself always smiling, watching how happy they were together. And as a parent, nothing feels better than knowing your child is loved. And my mother-in-law LOVES Shayna. As Dung told us many times, she wasn't going to miss me or Huyen, she was only going to miss Shayna.
Huyen and I know that Shayna will probably never remember spending this time with her grandma. Whenever I think about that it makes me sad. Really sad. However, Huyen, Dung and I will always remember it and we'll tell Shayna stories. For the past two months I've kept a journal and can't wait to share it with Shayna one day. Until then, I printed a handful of 8x10 photos of my mother-in-law and Shayna which we'll be putting up around the apartment.
Huyen, Shayna and I live in a one bedroom apartment. Before my mother-in-law came I worried that our apartment would feel very crowded. However, I can honestly say that it never did. Since she left though, it's definitely felt very empty.
We all miss my mother-in-law but are also so thankful that she was able to come here and be part of our lives. And the best thing is, we're already talking about when she'll come again.