August 02, 2010

A Full Full Life

Jess here. As I the reactions of people who hear about my story are trickling back to me, I find it interesting to note a few things.

1) The people who are furthest away from me seem to have the hardest time with it. All they hear is: 26 year old mother of two boys aged 5 and 3, wife, missionary. These facts alone seem to highlight to many people the unfairness of life.

2) Everyone has to respond based on their own life experience and they have to fit this in to their own life perspectives somehow. Of course it seems unfair.

I myself have thought a bit about the unfairness of it. Will my boys remember me? Who knows? But the other night as James and I talked about this question, something occurred to me that had the ability to turn this upsetting thought into something that suddenly made me very happy.

This was the thought. What if I had never had them at all? I can't even imagine how sad and inconsolable I would be right now if I felt that I had never had the opportunity to do the things that I have done. What if I was 26, unmarried, had no children, no prospects... and found myself diagnosed with an WHO Grade 3 Anaplastic Oligodendrioglioma? I would feel as though I had never had the chance to live and to do the things that I had always wanted. I realize that there are people who would think that by saying that I am placing all my value in my husband and my children, but that would be a very shallow reaction. What it means is that I have been married for six wonderful years and that I have been so privileged to see myself and my husband reflected in the faces of our children. What a blessing! I am so proud of all three of them! Just look at how cute those boys are! Suddenly all the incredulism that I experienced (and imagined) when I found myself to be 21 years old, married for less than a year, working while James was in University and pregnant (yikes!) seems so worthwhile.

So this blog is dedicated to yet another blessing that we were given by God shortly just two days before I had my seizure. Sometime in June, I found a gift card that we had been given by Ari's kindergarten to have ~$100 of free family photos taken at a professional photo studio. It turned out that the expiry date had already passed, but I figured that we could pull our "poor illiterate foreigners" wild card and see if they were willing to accept it. It turns out that they were, even though we were three months passed the expiry date. It also turns out that they don't often get the chance to photograph foreigners and especially foreign children.

We set up a date (July 3) and were informed that we would be given costumes and themed clothing to wear for these photos. This type of photography is very popular in Beijing, especially for weddings. It is a mark of status to have a professional wedding album done with numerous different themed wedding pictures (Victorian, traditional Chinese, Renaissance etc.). Unfortunately, in our conversations with them, we somehow missed the fact that we would have one set of pictures taken in themed clothing and one set of pictures taken with our own clothing. So when July 3 turned out to be an extremely hot and muggy day and we had to ride the bus for an hour in extreme discomfort, walk through narrow hutongs (back alleys) without street addresses and bear James' extremely bad mood, we were not very selective about the clothing that we chose to wear for this photo shoot. In fact, for about an hour before leaving we debated whether or not we should even go and whether or not we were just going to end up with a bunch of goofy pictures. The boys chose their own clothes (hence Ari's Spider man tank top and Jude's street-rat clothing) and James and I paid little attention to our own apparel.

We showed up at the studio very cranky, soaked, sweat trickling down our backs into our "you know wheres", 35 minutes late and extremely unenthusiastic. The team of photographers announced almost immediately that we would begin with the "own clothing" pictures. James and I winced at the thought of just how silly we must seem showing up with these clothes for a formal family portrait. Jude's tank top was so loose that we had to keep adjusting it so that the loose part would hang in the back where you couldn't see it, and his grey shorts were undeniably stained... like I said earlier, street rat clothing. Thankfully, the ladies offered me a brush and I was able to straighten my hair.

The shoot turned out to be super fun and we had a blast. They also videotaped us the whole time, so it captures us dialoguing with them in Chinese (something I don't think we've had on this blog). I don't know if the video will be too big or not, but I will try to post it on here along with these pictures. When I think about the fact that we almost didn't go just because of a hot day and cranky moods, I am so thankful that we actually did go. Two days later I was in the hospital and our world was turned upside down. Thank God for his foresight and his blessings!

I had to be pinned tightly into this qipao (traditional Chinese dress) and wore shoes that were about four sizes too big for me. Nonetheless, it was a great time. These pictures were only a few of the pictures that were taken, but I think that they are a pretty great selection. We haven't actually seen these pictures in the flesh yet. This last Sunday night at about 11:00 pm our time, I was bemoaning to our Chinese friends on Skype that we left before we were able to get these pictures picked up. Well, low and behold, when we woke up the next morning, our Gmail inbox had been flooded with pictures of our pictures, which are now waiting with the rest of our possessions in Beijing to somehow make their way back to us. What wonderful friends!

Catch a good glimpse of those golden locks while you still can. Soon, and perhaps forever, I'll be a patchy scalp with red spots (all hidden under various soft caps of course, and perhaps a wig depending on how pricey they get). This may be the only time you'll hear me say that I have loved my hair for years. Actually, never mind, I do plan on devoted a whole blog entry to my hair (just a warning for all of you who think that is too vain). My plan is to buzz my head at the beginning of the treatments. I'd rather watch it all fall off in its entirety at one time than see it fall out miserable clump by miserable clump. Additionally, the skin is expected to become quite sensitive on my scalp and the thought of buzzing a sensitive scalp just sounds unpleasant. Trust me, you'll be hearing more about this.

I am officially taking votes on which photos people like the best. My personal favorite is the one at the top with us all in traditional Chinese dress. James, the pompous landlord lectures his sons, who joyfully accept all of his instructions (looking as cute as possible), while the doting wife and mother smiles on. I also love the individual ones of the boys. I also suspect that this is the same photo studio that came to Ari's school and took that strange Harry Potter picture of him that I posted this last Christmas. I am almost positive that those are the same glasses! Oh well, very studious looking!

For now, that is it. Farewell from the Freys!


Sarah Walker said...

Hands down, I vote for Chinese family photo! It is wonderful! You have the perfect doting wife and mother look on your face and Jude's face is CLASSIC! I love it! I am soo glad you did this...sweaty, grumpy and all! Totally worth it!

derrydown said...

The family photo will be a joy forever. It is so Confucian and full of filial piety! The little sons offering auspicious gifts to the proud father and mother, sitting in the prosperous traditional home -- I love it. I will made a large copy to be framed and hung up for all my life.

Anonymous said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sue said...

It totally reminds me of Anna and the King of Siam, even though the outfits are probably quite accurate.

Kris and Char said...

Sorry, but I laughed so uncontrollably at the description of the lead up of the Frey family into the photo studio (not to mention the hilarious description of Jude's outfit) that when I scrolled down to see the actual picture it simply had to take the cake. I vote for the "ordinary clothes" photo because it makes for the best story and that's a memory and a laugh worth keeping!


hjayala said...

Dearest Jessica!

I'm going to write most of this in "French", so be forewarned.

I've read all of your very honest and brave messages. I admire your ability to see positively. But I have to say, because I'm me, that this so sucks. I'm not angry with God, I'm just plain angry. It is so unfair that this is happening. Yes, it could happen to anybody. But it shouldn't happen to you. It is just wrong.
My intention in writing this, honestly, is let you feel it is ok to be pissed off. Really.

Your favorite tante,
Auntie Hue