My Parents Got Sick. It Changed How I Thought About My Marriage

Love is never what I think it will be. It’s small but spreads wide, surprising me with its contours, its unfamiliarity, its unhurried rhythms. I don’t know how I arrived at the conclusion that families are zero-sum. I never interrogated the apocryphal notion that my two families would repel each other like magnets or else collide and decimate me. I just couldn’t face the questions, the mixing. The muddiness. But this is what love is.

I’ve learned, too, that for me love is always struck through with terror. As a solemn kid in Hong Kong, searching for my parents through the window of our high-rise at night, it was the uncertainty I couldn’t tolerate. The anticipation of loss. Now, as I care for them, I’ve entered that fog again. I don’t know how it will feel when my father’s limbs go, when his smooth-muscle functions abandon him. I don’t know whether it will coincide with my mother’s tumors resurfacing. All I know is that I don’t get to know. That there is no way to prepare for those moments. And that for now, my parents are here and I can talk to them.

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