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Love and Accomplishing Difficult Things

January.23.2011

A good friend of mine got married yesterday and I was fortunate enough to be able to witness her beautiful ceremony at the Mission at Santa Clara University. During the mass the priest said some things about love that really resonated with me. See, my friend K and her partner S have been together for several years, but have spent the past year or two living in opposite coasts of the country. K went to NYC to pursue her dream career while S stayed in the Bay in order to maintain some economic stability for the two of them. Many of us know that it is already a beautiful struggle within itself to nurture a relationship when both partners are close in proximity, so a distance of thousands of miles only heightens those struggles.

The priest commended K and S, and said “You are people who know how to accomplish difficult things because you have had to learn how to love over many many miles.”

He is right. K and S are truly committed to one another, and I was happy to share such a special day with them.

The reality of the priest’s statement rings so true for many Filipinos who make the difficult decision every day to leave their country, leave their families and loved ones in order to find livelihood abroad. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are women and men who are forced to learn how to love from a great distance, nurture a family that they cannot see, and sacrifice years, sometimes decades of loneliness and hard struggle.

The cost of this reality is often great, one that we might not anticipate when making the decision to leave. An aunt of mine had to leave her young toddler, and he didn’t recognize her when she was finally able to return after several years. He wept when she tried to hug him, and he reached for “mommy” — the aunt who had been raising him while his mother was away providing for him. My own parents had to relearn how to rebuild a marriage tested by years of separation. The mannerisms that had become unfamiliar, the distance between them created by time and not space, the promises made from what felt like a lifetime ago.

We are a people that know how to do difficult things because we must.

So this weekend, I celebrate K and S for forging a love that withstands the distance that is often between them. And I dedicate my work to the OFWs who’s own story may not have as sweet an ending.

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