Last week was our big trip to Holland. I had been dreaming of visiting the place my mom was born for as long as I can remember. I consider it the sweetest gift in the world not only that this dream came true, but that I got to be there with my little family and have my mom along too! I loved everything about this place from the architecture to the freeways lined in colored tulips, to the cutest little coffee shops and cobblestone roads. But what I loved most was the chance we got to be with family I hadn't seen in years and some I had never met. We spent an afternoon at my great aunt's house which has got to be the cuuuuutest little Dutch home right in the middle of the city. I could've spent hours there studying every little detail that seemed to have a story behind it all. My mom told me stories of how she'd play upstairs in the attic with her sister when they were little. We opened up rickety boxes and looked through old photographs of family as my mom and oma told me who each person was and how we were related. I discovered paintings from my great aunt (who is the sister of my Oma) and learned how both sides of my Oma and Opa's families are full of artists.
Being in that tiny room with everyone brought back childhood memories of being with my Dutch/Indonesian side of the family. I remember lots of get togethers where everyone was speaking in Dutch, talking loudly, eating Indonesian food and laughing a lot. Much like my memories, the afternoon was filled with the same. I knew nothing of what anyone was saying, but we were with family and we were happy. I think what filled my heart the most was watching my girls be with my Oma and watching her play so sweetly with them. I hadn't seen my Oma since she moved back to Holland 4 years ago. I wasn't sure if she'd ever get to meet Shane or my kids, so being there in that moment was overwhelming for me. A lot of tears filled my eyes that day. The sentimental part of me has been ignited 10 times more than it was before now that I'm a mom.
There was something about being in that place, in that city, that made me think a lot about our stories, our history. I wished for a moment I could go back in time to watch my mom when she was Raleigh's age, playing in the alleyways by her house. I wished I could capture and experience what life was like for my Oma and Opa being in Holland all those years ago. I thought about all the things that happened along the way of my family's history that has brought me to this moment in life right now. My Opa and his family leaving concentration camps from Indonesia during WW2 to find a better life in Holland. My Oma and Opa meeting through friends in the little city of Alkmaar, getting married, then deciding to take a risk and pack up their life to head to America. My mom growing up in Southern California and my dad leaving his Michigan roots and heading west for the coast. My parents meeting in the same apartment complex and deciding to get married then eventually settling their family in Orange County. All of this made me think how so many details could've been shifted, one little thing could've been different and my life wouldn't be the same. It made me think how much God is in the details. And I believe He's been there all along. I believe He knew the way my story would play out long before my grandparents ever met. I could see through my family's history how He had been and still is working it out for His good. It made me think how much our stories matter. Every decision we make, every person we meet, every step along the way is a significant part of becoming our history, our legacies.
I love that this is part of my story. I love that this is now part of my girl's story and that I'm getting to share it with them. I know someday the tables will turn and I'll be the one pulling out pictures of these moments and telling my grandkids about it. I'll be the one playing with my great grandkids on my lap, singing songs to them and realizing how my story has come full circle. I only hope that the decisions we're making now and the way we're choosing to live would be creating legacies and a heritage my kids and their kids could take with them and be proud of.