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Making a Difference

For the first two weeks, I was angry and asked God why me? God held me in His arms and showed me something that I would never have known if it wasn't for the tragedy. Now my prayer is not only for my family but for that family.

This young girl was about my younger daughter’s age; her father killed my husband with a machete. We sat across from each other at the Homicide department. Her pregnant mother couldn’t speak any English despite the fact that she has been in the United States for 14 years. This young girl told me how her father killed my husband who was the owner of the restaurant where her mother worked. Her father has a long criminal record starting with a murder/manslaughter 15 years ago.

I don’t know any family like that. I worked in an office most of my career. We go to the church that sent mission trips to Mexico or Central America but we never go to the neighborhood where the young girl grown up. We took our kids to travel overseas and we panicked when someone broke into my Lexus. I never thought domestic violence was going to take our dream away. I warned my husband about his fearless driving but never expected that a madman would take a machete to make multiple blows to his head.

My husband – the man I loved since I was 19. Every event was so predictable - we married and bought a house in a Houston suburb after we had our first child, sent her to every activity a proud parent would do – tennis, swimming, piano, violin, etc. You name it – we did it. She was ranked # 7 in the entire state of Texas for junior tennis (Texas is the second best state in tennis) and her room was full of trophies and Korean singers’ pictures. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering – same major as her Dad. Her dad walked her down the aisle to a fine man just few months ago. She has a career just like me – IT consultant. She has a little bit of me and her Dad – just perfect. My first son was born 5 years later than his sister; he was the cutest baby. We repeated the same process but he was so different from his sister. He didn’t play much sports nor piano but he read. He was a National Merit semi-finalist even though his high school ranking was not so great (that is okay - his high school is one of the most competitive high schools in U.S). He applied to all the top school like MIT and Stanford and, like his sister, got into The College of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He graduated last year and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He is planning to enter law school afterwards with a competitive LSAT score. We don’t really care if he becomes a lawyer or a pastor – his Dad is just very proud of him, period.
My husband loved the idea of having children around as long as we could afford them – it takes 17 and half years to complete the mission. Charlotte, my 3rd child is 15 and loves her school debate team and plays for the varsity golf team as a freshman, she is very easy going, and never causes any problems for us – a typical teenager but a very good one. Her Dad planned to teach her how to drive during spring break. The youngest is a boy and we were ready to take him with us to travel the world. We sent him to weekend Chinese school to get him ready for staying in Asia.

Both my husband and I came to the States for a higher education and stayed to build our dream on the land of freedom. 28 years of marriage and we were ready to save enough for our retirement – our goal was to live close to my adult children and travel the world the other half of the time.

Our dream ended when this young girl’s father showed up after he located his ex-wife. I heard about this young girl’s mother who needed money and wanted to work 7 days a week, and I was joking with my husband that she was going to burn out very soon and my husband replied that there was no such word ‘ burn out’ in her situation – she had 5 children and no husband. This woman didn’t tell my husband until that night that she feared for of her life because she finally left her husband and got a protective order against him. She didn’t tell my husband that she was pregnant with a new boyfriend also.

My husband was ordained as a Reverend and got his second masters degree from Southwest Baptist Seminary. He surprised me by reading my card at the day of the ordination – on the card, I had written a poem
“I'm throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it's low tide right now and all of these starfish have been washed up onto the shore. If I don't throw them back into the sea, they'll die up here from lack of oxygen." "I understand," my friend replied, "but there must be thousands of starfish on this beach. You can't possibly get to all of them. There are simply too many. And don't you realize this is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast ? Can't you see that you can't possibly make a difference?" The local native smiled, bent down and pick up yet another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied, "Made a difference to that one!"

I was so proud of my husband – he made a difference to that one for sure – the pregnant mother - he gave up his life for that one. He won’t be with me to travel the world and live old together because of that one. He won’t be able to teach Charlotte how to drive nor give her away nor sing for her on her wedding day. He won’t able to take our youngest boy to the camping trip or introduce him to all the exotic Chinese food in Asia. I looked at her when she finished translate for her mother. I know I still have 4 children to carry their father’s passion to others and compassion to God but I am not sure about this family’s future – would the young girl marry a violent husband or have too many children? I don’t know. But I know my husband made a difference to that family – and he made a difference to all my children. Maybe we – my children and I - still drink Starbucks and laugh through our memories of their father. Maybe we never see the family again. But we are no longer the same.