From our archives, Compass Magazine, May. 2002:
Translated by Cheryl Robbins
She had shoulder-length hair and a medium build. To be honest, she wasn’t someone who would stand out in a crowd. If we both hadn’t written the same wrong class time down, we might never have had the chance to talk, and I might not have heard the story of a very sad time in her life.She had shoulder-length hair and a medium build. To be honest, she wasn’t someone who would stand out in a crowd. If we both hadn’t written the same wrong class time down, we might never have had the chance to talk, and I might not have heard the story of a very sad time in her life.
Studying abroad is the dream of many young people in Taiwan. But, frustration and sorrow often come with trying to fulfill this dream.
The year she came to the United States to study, she was both excited and hesitant. She had a boyfriend at that time and felt that it was very hard to leave him. But, he was very supportive and promised to wait for her, which put her mind at ease.
Before she left, he gave her a “certificate of guaranteed happiness” to carry with her. Feeling secure about their relationship, she made her way to America. Although they spent huge amounts of money on phone bills, their passionate conversations weren’t enough to make up for his loneliness. Eventually, he left her and married someone else. This sounded like a story from an old movie. However, while it is easy to see it on the big screen, it is hard to face when it is your own reality.
We both looked at a squirrel scurrying by and I thought that was the end of the story. But, not long before, she had received a phone call telling her that he had died and so she had returned to Taiwan. Upon arriving at his home to pay her respects and seeing his parents, whom she knew so well, she was surprised to discover that his widow was none other than her good friend.
His widow haltingly tried to explain, “He…he knew that you had come back to Taiwan. He wanted to see you, but didn’t dare to contact you. Then, when he found out you were leaving to go back to the US, he wanted to go to the airport to explain. But, it rained that day, and the roads were slippery and he was hit by a truck.” She continued, “I’m so sorry. I know that he still loved you. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant, he wouldn’t have….” She started to sob and her tears washed away all of the anger and hate that this woman sitting next to me had bottled up inside.
The sun began to set, which reminded us that our next class was going to start soon. She ended her story by saying that she decided to return to the US to finish her degree. But, when she left Taiwan this time, instead of a certificate of guaranteed happiness, she had the deed to an apartment in Taipei that he had left to her.
Some people, like this woman, seem to pass out of my life as quickly as they enter. I don’t know who will be the next to share their story with me. I’m grateful to her for enriching my life and giving me something to think about. I don’t know how she is doing now. I sometimes wonder if she has met someone else and is married and has children. Anyway, if I could see her again, I would tell her that I cherish the story that she shared with me that day.