I am sitting in MNL airport, waiting to board my flight to SIN. Mom, Dad and DJ have just left for their flight to Hong Kong. This is the start of my solo journey – first to Singapore, then to Bali and then I don’t know what next. It is surreal to be here on my own. For the first time in over three weeks, I am truly on my own again. After being surrounded by dozens of relatives 24/7 for nearly a month straight, even in a crowded terminal full of hundreds of people, there is a quiet that I can’t describe.
How can I explain the love that is emanating from inside me?! I didn’t even know it existed, this amazing, overwhelming love that only blood relatives can bring. With cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, an unconditional love flowered from the instant we stepped out of the airport more than three weeks ago and since then we’ve been drowning in it. I am moved, touched, different from when we first came and I hope that I will never be the same again.
Last night, during our leaving party, after 15 years of being away, DJ cried. He said that everyone filled a void he didn’t even know existed, that they showed him a love that he can’t describe, that he fell in love over and over again with every single one of the relatives he met. I couldn’t have said it differently. We all run around looking to fall in love, to feel something outside of ourselves that can complete us somehow. Family can do that in an instant. In a smile 15 years overdue, in laughter over memories from childhood past, in a meal cooked with tired hands in a backyard kitchen, family love can complete us.
I feel new, refreshed, whole in a different way. Knowing that there is an army of people ready to fight for me, ready to catch me when I fall, ready to wipe these tears from my face, ready to welcome me with open arms: there is no greater feeling of freedom and security. I am washed over with peace, with a wealth and joy inside me that I can’t describe. So this is what it feels like to be rich.
Though the end of this trip came much too quickly, this new year has just begun. And I feel blessed and happy and ready to take on what’s next. There is no searching or longing or looking back. There is just the world, the road and an unyielding faith that everything will be great. My family has shown me that not time, nor distance, nor change can conquer a love this strong. And with that assuredness, my centre of gravity has shifted forever. It is not place that makes a life, it is people. And this is the surest compass that I know.