I am the only child of two Chinese immigrants who came here almost three decades ago searching for a better life. They came here with not much more than the clothes on their back and the will to provide for their families back across the ocean. They sought to make Australia their home without a word of English and without a single person to confide in. I am the product of these two souls who found each other in a world of the unfamiliar, and together we are the Qin family.
Ask any of my friends, and they will tell how sickeningly close I am to my parents. I mean, to the point where it’s kind of weird. There’s almost nothing I don’t tell them, and we probably do things that not many other families would. I suppose it’s partly due to the fact that we only have each other here, but regardless my parents are my closest friends. I’m not trying to say my family is better than anyone else’s, we have our fights and hiccups along the way like anyone else. However, what I would like to stress is how important these two people are to me, and that I cannot imagine life without them.
Which makes watching them starting to grow old terrify me. The worst part is, it is not something you are continually aware of. We see each other every day, and so these gradual changes are almost imperceptible. But one day, you look at them and you notice these grey hairs sprinkled over their head. When did that happen? The wrinkles that have become more deeply etched into their worn faces, radiating from the corners of their smiling eyes. The aches and pains in their bodies that have started to take hold, and likely will never leave them until the day they die. When you realise they don’t have the same energy as your young and spritely body. That they are not the invincible and powerful figures you always imagined would hold your hand and guide you through the rest of your life. Death is the only certainty in life, and it’s the natural course that we will all inevitably trek through. But it scares me. I don’t want them to leave me.
I’m being melodramatic here, because both of my parents are middle-aged and are still quite fit individuals. But the point still stands. I am still surprised and saddened when I see my dad with grey hair, because it reminds me of what’s to come. That I have to witness their bodies and minds begin to fail them before they are forever taken away. One day I will be the only living member of the Qin family, and what’s in a family name if you don’t have any? I know that when that day comes it will absolutely break me, and despite it being several decades away it doesn’t make me feel any better. The saddest part is, they are going to be worried about me when it happens. They are going to fear that I will be alone and helpless in the world, and will never be loved as much as they have loved me. For no matter how old I am, I will always be their child, their baby, and who they would be willing to sacrifice everything for. For that I am eternally grateful, and eternally in debt. I love you with every inch of my heart.