48

Four days ago, on 04/08, I had a quiet and delightful birthday with my husband.

Just like most people, the number from my birthdate is special to me. 48 has always been my lucky number, it has also been the tie to my family. My younger sister was born on 08/04 when I was 7, her birthdate was exactly the opposite of mine. Not only did she look almost like my twin, I was always surprised at how similar we were in personalities as well as I watched her grow up. I didn't know the mistakes I made in second grade could possibly be repeated in almost the same fashion by a smaller version of me. I remember when she was born, I tried so hard to remember her birthdate that I confused it with my own that not once did I mistakenly wrote my own birthdate as 08/04. I've often thanked my parents in my heart for having another kid 7 years after having me, for us to get along so well, she was the gift of my life.

My younger sister passed away 4 years ago, I was not 30 then and my world came tumbling down. Everything I used to know, believe and trust all changed. At the time, I had just found a new job, I had just started dating my now husband, it was a brand new beginning, but all of a sudden, everything became meaningless. I didn't understand this joke life played on my family. She had just graduated from college, why? I really couldn't accept it at that time. We've always been able to understand each other without talking since we were kids, I was so used to relying on her for every thought, but at that moment, I felt hollow. Without her, my soul was half dead. Until today, I still can't really quite describe the feeling I had at the time. But the closest metaphor to my life at that time would be a nicely finished puzzle being violently thrown on the ground and I was trying to pick up the pieces one by one with extremely limited energy. It's been 4 years, during this time, I've learned to look at everything for what they really are, and I also deeply believe that my sister left me a tremendous gift, which was courage.

When she had just passed, I've only started dating my now husband. To be honest, I've never thought about dating a foreigner, but everything just happened naturally. Our relationship caused a big stir to my family. I left home many years ago for school in the US, but my parents believed one day I would return to Taiwan and I would probably end up marrying a Taiwanese man. If you asked me 6 years ago what my thought was about that, I would probably tell you I agreed with my parents. But meeting my husband and dating him was not planned, life came knocking. After I lost my younger sister, I started to treat all of my friendships seriously. When something this huge happens in life, you could really feel the sincere concerns and care from people around you. I was under a lot of stress at that time, I had just entered a well-known company, I wanted to do well, but my heart was still hurting. If I abandoned the job at that time, my design career would be extremely different down the road, and I would've lost my working visa and be forced to move outside of the US. During that time, I broke down and cried my eyes out often, once a week was quite normal. I felt guilty for not being in Taiwan to help mend my parents' wounds, I felt torn with my determination at the job, I felt despair for not being able to fill the hole in my soul and my head was constantly spinning. I couldn't fall asleep or sleep well at all. And my husband (then boyfriend) was just always there for me, no matter what happened, ups and downs, emotional drama and abuse, somehow he just stayed and took care of me. The pressure coming from my family about my "odd choice" of staying in the US and their prejudice against dating a foreigner made me into a timed-bomb, ready to go off any second. But at the same time, my job doesn't allow any instability or weakness. I really wasn't that innocent person he met at the beginning any more. The reality forced me to burst that well-protected bubble I grew up with and faced things for what they really are. My husband was always there to help walk me through these changes and he grew with me. At the same time, whenever I was in trouble, I could always see my sister smiling at me in my head. It gave me tremendous courage to continue to strive forward.

During this time, my husband told me a little secret. He had also always like the number 48, he still has no idea why, but he was just very attracted to this particular number. All the team sport jerseys he had in school had 48 on it. Instinctively, he always picked 48 to be his number. So when we met, we were really both pleasantly surprised by our bias towards that number, he even had an online identity of "4x12." In real life, I was bombarded with many other things. Even though he made me see all kinds of possibilities that could happen, together we could do so much, but when I think of my family, I just felt sad. Every year, he would visit Taiwan with me for my sisters memorial. For a foreigner who had no idea about the traditional religious culture in Taiwan, he was always willing to stay in the temple with me from morning to night, following along with the buddhist chant and kneeling with prayers. I was often shocked by his persistence, but he always just said, "once I've decided we were gonna be together, I would do anything." Perhaps throughout our entire journey, he was always the one who understood persistence, for this, I am truly thankful.

After promising my parents at least 100 times that he would always take care of me, he somehow soothed my parents' concerns. Two years ago, they gave us permission to be married. Once that was settled, we were both busy arranging the first meeting of the two families and getting down the details to register at city hall. We were both so nervous that we almost didn't realize that the "good day" my dad picked our from the Chinese calendar was 04/12. When we saw the date, it put a smile on our face, wasn't this "4x12?" A friend who knew about our secret of 48 even asked if we planned the date to be 04/12, somehow telling him it was a pure coincidence really didn't work.

It's our second anniversary today, throughout this time, I'm really grateful for a partner who gives me unlimited support. He pulled me through the time when I was the ugliest and crazed and showed me love and cherished me every single day. No matter what my crazy dreams are, he just wants me to believe in myself and charge forward, never putting the flame out of my hearts. His support made it possible for me to keep this blog running and continue to share with you guys. 48 or 4x12 are my secret numbers, it links me to my sister that I will treasure and remember with my whole heart for the rest of my life, it links me to my life partner. Maybe one day, it will become our own brand. But before that happens, I thank you, 48, you've brought nothing but wonderful delights to my life.