We often take pictures of happy events. Of celebration, exploration, and laughter. We want to remember the milestones of our lives. But they often don’t show us is more important to our stories. What isn’t captured speaks volumes more than what is.
My parents grew up during the Cultural Revolution. Every day, their family and friends were publicly denounced and physically punished for fabricated crimes. Seeing people you know persecuted because of their intellect and wealth is heart-breaking, but it is nothing compared to seeing your uncle kill himself because he cannot handle losing everything.
My mom still managed to live a considerably good life. The only thing she has left now are photographs and her own memories. Photos of brief joy in a time of misery. But while my mom has her photographs, my dad has nothing. Not even photos—his parents burned his childhood pictures out of fear. Nothing but his own memories.
My dad managed a factory that made clothing, and my mom ran businesses, based on what made money at the time, before finally settling on working in the stock market.
My dad came to the U.S. in hopes of finding a better life before going back and marrying my mom. Two years later, I was born, and he came back before leaving again, sending money and infant formula as often as he could. And soon, my mom and I came to the U.S. for my future. My parents have worked endlessly for me, leaving their home, and I cannot begin to repay them for their sacrifices.
– Grace Wu