Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Moment Like This.

On Sunday, my friend Wendy and her high school sweetheart got married. It was my first Chinese wedding I attended since moving to China, and I was excited for two things: to share in the happiness that is Wendy & Kevin's special day, and to witness my first Chinese wedding - to see the cultural difference and similarities.

Before going to the wedding, one of my teacher friends told me that this wedding would be on the more modern side when it comes to Chinese weddings. I'd heard stories of other Chinese weddings that my friends here had been to and they involved horses, fireworks, and rescuing the bride before walking down the aisle. There was none of that at Wendy's wedding. It was actually quite similar in ways to a Western wedding at home. 

Wendy wore a beautiful white gown. Beautiful! And Kevin looked quite handsome in a suit. Wendy's dad walked her to the alter where her mom placed her veil on Wendy. I cried. *Surprise, surprise.* Kevin met her at the end of the aisle on stage where the ceremony began. Kevin was very emotional, Wendy was very emotional, and I don't think there were many dry eyes in the room.

The entire ceremony was in Chinese. While I didn't understand a lot of it, I could understand what I saw. They exchanged rings, poured wine down a fountain of glasses, cut the cake, and as the sealed it with a kiss, Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This" was cued at the perfect time. Fairytale-like, and a little like watching a movie. I think my favourite part of the wedding was watching what I think is the Chinese version of the bride throwing the bouquet. Some of Wendy's girlfriends came up on the stage and each took a ribbon that was attached to Wendy's bouquet. On the count of three, each girl pulled on their ribbon and they all broke away except one. My guess is (because again, it was all in Chinese) that the girl who still had the ribbon attached to Wendy's bouquet is like the girl who caught the bouquet at a Western wedding. You're next! 

And then came the food. Food upon food upon food upon food. Literally, people! We had to pile plates of food on top of other plates of food because there wasn't enough room. It was delicious food, too. And I left more full than I had felt in a long time. 

Congratulations, Wendy and Kevin. I wish you all of the love and happiness in this new journey of life. And I am honoured to have been a witness to your special day! xo

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Firstly, in case any of you needed reminding as to how amazing my mom is, please read posts HERE and HERE

Today is my Mom's birthday! She will be showered with love, compliments, gifts, and happiness on her day from friends, family, and loved ones all over the place. Including me, all the way here in China! While I can't be there in person to celebrate her special day, I've sent her flowers and all of my love in my absence. 

On Mom's special day, I want to add to the growing list of reason's why she's the absolute best mom in the entire world. Legit!

-- You taught me some pretty important life lessons. How to be independent, how to stand up for myself, and how not to take everything for granted and be thankful for the small things.

-- That time I was scheduled to have surgery and we stayed at a hotel the night before. When we woke up, you couldn't see your hand in front of you because it was snowing so hard. You drove the 15 minute drive (which actually took closer to an hour because of the storm) to the hospital to find out as we arrived that the surgery was cancelled. It wasn't the first time you fought extreme weather conditions to drive me somewhere I needed to be.

-- In times of need, you and Dad have always been there to get me out of trouble. Every single time.

-- When I got my tattoo, I can safely say you were completely against it. It took me a long time to decide to get the tattoo because I didn't want to disappoint or upset you. After getting it, you and Dad came to Fredericton and we spent the day together. I saw you looking at it, but I never brought it up or asked your opinion. When you dropped me off at my house, you rolled down your window as I was walking away and said to me, "Melissa, I guess it's not THAT bad." I will never forget that.

-- You put up with fight, after fight, after fight between Brad and I. While I'm sure you wanted to pull your hair out at times, and you did have to raise your voice quite frequently, you got through it and our relationship never weakened because of it.

-- I've never been afraid to be honest with you. You are accepting and patient, and I think that reflects in the bond that we have.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If I didn't have you as a Mom, I'd definitely chose you as a friend. You are an amazing listener and give the most sound advice. I love you to the moon and back, always and forever!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! With love, Melissa. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Around My Neck, Always & Forever.

My Grandad remains an inspiration in my life today. He motivates me to take big steps, and I always think about how proud he might be of my strides and what he might say of my successes since his passing. It has been three years since he died and not a day goes by still that I don't think of him. Each day starts with him. Before leaving the house and starting my day, I put on my heart-shaped necklace and he's always with me. 

On the day of his burial three years ago, my Grandmom gave me a necklace in a velvet drawstring bag.

This necklace is similar to a locket, but in a different way. Instead of being filled with a picture, it's filled with a little bit of his ashes. I have one, my Mom has one, and my Grandmom has one. And while he may not be here physically to see me and what I've been doing, he's always around my neck, close to my heart, and on my mind every step of the way. He's also taken some pretty big journey's over the last three years: a move to Calgary, a move to China, vacationing in PEI, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, as well as quick trips to Shanghai and Datong. He's a pretty lucky man!


On two recent occasions with Amanda, she snapped pictures of me laughing. When we went back and looked at the pictures, she said to me that I looked just like my Grandad when I laughed. She had never had the chance to meet him, but she has seen pictures of him that I have shared and posted and she said that I had the same joyful and happy look on my face when I laughed as he did. 

I think Amanda has a pretty good idea as to how much this small detail means to me. It also means a lot to me that someone who didn't have the chance to meet such an important man in my life can see how we are similar and what an amazing, happy, and strong man he was. And he really was that. During his wake and funeral, people I didn't know and had never met would tell me over and over again how much they enjoyed knowing Grandad and what a pleasure he was to have around. Because he was. He was nice to everyone, he was accepting of so many people, and he was the kindest man. And if I can be a fraction of the person he was and inspire and influence people the way he did, then I can say that I accomplished what I set out to in life and in my experiences.

I've written two other posts on the anniversary of his death in 2012 and 2013 expressing how amazing he was and how I've remembered him over time. I still can't believe he is gone. My life has changed so much since he died on May 9th, 2011 and I wish all the time he could be with me and my family. While I know he was proud of me and supported me constantly during the first 22 years of my life, I often wonder and struggle with the ideas and thoughts that he didn't get to see me and know me at my full potential. And I'm still growing. I love the person I am today more than the person I was back then. I am finally doing the things I had always wanted to do, and I am proving to myself and others the potential and talents I have. I know he saw me succeed, I just wish I could show him more. 

And I don't wish this just for me, I wish it for my entire my family. Grandmom, Uncle David, Mom, Dad, Brad, Mark, Carolin, Rebecca, and Rachel. This tight-knit group and the potential, talents, abilities, strengths, and creativity we have as a whole is amazing. It's inspiring. And without Grandad and the influence and leadership he showed us over his lifetime, none of us would be where we are today without him. He was and still is a great man. And I am so thankful to call him MY Grandad. My rock. I love him, always and forever.