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Reflections on Departure: Love, Choices, and Vietnam

Reflections on Departure: Love, Choices, and Vietnam


Change can be scary, an unknown territory that takes time to adjust to. Once again, I woke up feeling anxious this morning as the days draw closer to leaving America, leaving behind half of my world. I let go of my car last night, and today, over the next few days, I'll part with more personal belongings. I don't own many expensive items, but I have valuable things that money cannot buy. Will I be able to pack them all into two suitcases and a carry-on? We'll see...

When I left Vietnam at 15, I carried nothing with me, not even a sweater. For several days, I slept on a disguised fishing boat, the sky serving as my blanket and the big fishes swimming alongside as my companions. I survived that unknown territory - my life was at the mercy of the ocean. Slight angry waves could have drowned my fragile body into the ocean's depths. I'm indebted and grateful to our Creator for giving me a second chance at life - to live and make a difference in this world.

A year or two from now, when I look back on this day, I'll smile and reassure myself that it was the right decision - to be there for my mom, as I hadn't been for so long. I only visited her as often as I could. In fact, all the vacation hours I accumulated while working for the Los Angeles County were spent in Vietnam. It wasn't easy for me, but being around Mom made it all worth it. I don't want to see her sad for my leaving again, even though her emotions are no longer intact. She won't remember any sad or happy moments much longer, but I know she can still feel love and happiness seeing me there every day.

Life is all about choices. Choose the path closer to your heart and pursue it, avoiding regrets later. I didn’t plan for this day yesterday, but nine years ago, while vacationing in Vietnam, I promised Mom that as soon as I retired from work, I'd return for her in 2025. I kept my promise and made it happen even a year earlier. I didn't foresee this day when I made the promise, but that's what my heart yearned for, and the universe made it happen - it's the law of attraction. 'Ask and you shall receive,' as in scripture Mark 11:24.

Yesterday, Jayden asked me again why my mom didn't want to come to America, why I left instead of her coming here. I wish I knew the answer. Would I still have this much love and affection for Vietnam if my entire family were here in the US, as most families are? I believe my love for Vietnam extends beyond just my family; it's deep-rooted. I love everything about Vietnam - the people, the culture, the language, the bamboo trees in the villages, the coconut leaf conical hats, the peasant outfits, the traditional gowns. So, even if my family were all here, my heart would still yearn to love and care for Vietnam - the place where I uttered my first words.

I am happy and thankful for the warm embrace I am receiving from my family and friends from every region of Vietnam. Thank You! ♥️

Crystal H. Vo

December 29, 2023

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