I’m not a fan of copyediting and copywriting. I really don’t like marketing gigs either. I just don’t have passion for helping people sell products I think are overpriced in the first place. But, I’ve had to pull my weight as a writer, just like everyone else. Once upon a time, I listed my own copyediting and copywriting Elance profile. I accepted dirt-cheap pay for jobs I loathed.
Moving on from that, one of my favorite parts about being a writer is giving a voice to the voiceless and vulnerable. The more I write, the stronger my platform, and the louder I can make my written voice. I felt empowered to make true change after I wrote Inclusive Education: What does this mean for children with special needs? in last year’s December 11th issue of City Weekend Beijing Parents & Kids magazine. Immediately after the article was published, one of the contacts I interviewed attested to the support he was able to garner from his school administration.
After I wrote that piece, I became much more knowledgeable about differentiated and inclusive instruction. The research and the interviews I conducted changed the way I viewed the Chinese education system and how I treated children in my classroom.
And that leads me to my second favorite perk of being a writer. I’m changed through writing. Real stories and real people reach out to me and cling to my conscious in a way that fabricated movies, television shows and RP games just can’t. I forget movies almost as soon as I see them, (a blessing with movie blunders).
But last month, I got to share part of my own story when I wrote about Daviana and Luke’s loss. Even though I wrote the story in an “as told to” viewpoint, I already knew huge chunks of the story before I sat down for my first recording with her.
My kids and I arrived second (after the Chinese neighbor), when the accident happened. I saw the bag. My kids and I experienced, along with her two boys, many of the in and out waves of friends, coworkers, BICF attenders and strangers who came to extend their care, toys and food. I attended one of the hospital prayer meetings with an out of town friend when Bobby was able to stay home with our own littles. Bobby and I met Daviana’s mother and aunt for the first time, and Luke’s mother for the second time. We prayed alongside our Chinese speaking neighbors at Luke and Davi’s home, and then later alongside our English speaking neighbors at another teaching couple’s home. We attended the memorial service to say our goodbyes to Tiana and show our support to Luke and Davi, but I still hold on to regrets of not having been a better friend to Daviana before the loss. While Tiana lived, I had held her once or twice. Such a beautiful, short life had sifted like sand between my fingers.
What feels like much later, but in reality was only a week after her mother’s month stay was over, Davi invited me to go rollerblading. I love rollerblading, and I gladly accepted the invitation, (when she has asked me to run or go to Zumba with her, I’ve refused all but one invitation to date). After briefly catching up on “normal” life details and once we were puffing through our masks, I casually asked her how she was doing, despite how uneasy I felt to even broach the subject. Although I learned a lot about trauma and loss during the hectic time before this rollerblading session, I learned the most about being a friend while I witnessed Daviana grieve so openly.
She processed her thoughts with me. She was patient with my questions. We both started to understand sometimes we just needed a sympathetic ear, whether to process grief or any of the many troubles life brings. Although I can’t say we are best friends, I can say we are able to comfort one another during times of hardship. I wish I could say that hasn’t technically been tested, but Bobby and I had our own share of personal hardships since living in this community. Not the kind that makes us want to pack up and leave for the States, but the life hardships that bring humiliation, remorse, anguish and/or sorrow.
There’s a great deal of bravery and strength that Davi has in her vulnerability and honesty about her shortcomings. I know that she is aware others judge her for what happened, since she still experiences shunning from a few in our little small-town-like community in the millions-and-millions-of-residents-city of Beijing. And, the girl is so humble; she won’t attribute her honesty to bravery or strength, but almost a shame if she doesn’t share the gift Jesus has given her through the grief and loss of her precious baby.
Tiana, Davi, Luke and their boys have genuinely changed the lives of many, (I’ve heard the stories of how, remember?). I hope you are blessed and changed by the testimony of Tiana, even an ounce of how much her story has changed me.
Hear more about the story below:
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