Lately, I’ve been thinking more about the photos I didn’t take than the photos I did. That moment just before I snapped the shutter, when the toddler was crying, and the baby wouldn’t look at the camera, and the dog wouldn’t sit still, and the husband was annoyed at the wife who was snarky. But then, for a second, when everyone settled down… SNAP. The perfect family is caught on film for Facebook and the world to see. We had lots of those moments, those caught on film and those not caught on film. What an awful Instagram feed that would be, if I had been more honest and not curated my life.
Life isn’t picture perfect. Far from it. It’s been a roller coaster of highs and lows, and lots of smaller hills and valleys in between.
In my writing, I’ve been able to capture many of those honest moments, of life at its most devastating. Of me being angry or self-righteous or wallowing in my pool of self-pity. Or just understandably sad.
But, I will say, Daniel and I have really enjoyed launching the Dragon Kim Fellowship Program. We found some amazing teenagers with big dreams and big hearts. Our first Leadership weekend was an incredible experience. We assembled a dream team of instructors and mentors: Carla de Cervantes, Sam Song, Kerri Sonenshine, Hanju Lee, Jack Toan, Martin Motessi, and Johngho Song. We pulled together much of the stuff we wish we had learned in school – stuff that would have been more useful than physics, differential calculus, and subjunctive verbs. Stuff like, how to articulate your personal mission, how to deal with rejection, how to find and follow your true north. Then we shared with the Dragon Fellows business skills we didn’t learn until much later in life – how to write a business plan, deliver an elevator pitch, establish SMART goals, project a budget, define a project workplan. How to gather and motivate a team. How to pitch your project and how to ask for help.
The kids were remarkable. They took it all in like sponges. You never know with high schoolers. Before the training, I asked myself, would they understand and appreciate this? Would they find it stupid? Would they be too cool to bond with each other? I found them to be open and vulnerable, deep thinking and big-hearted. And by the time we opened the training room doors on Day 2, they came in high-fiving each other, calling out their morning greetings and giving out hugs. They have started to come together as a team. They were all we hoped they would be.
And Daniel and I? We really enjoyed it. We enjoyed working with our dream team to pull together the curriculum, to develop the deliverables, to organize the mentorship program. We played off each other’s strengths and each other’s weaknesses. We worked together, and we were a good team. We pulled in our daughter, Hannah, to be our photographer and documentary filmmaker. Frankly, we wanted Hannah to sit in on the training. It was all stuff we wanted to teach Dragon. Now, we get to teach Hannah and a whole bunch of Dragon Fellows. It was a family affair, built in honor of our son that we miss with every breath we take, built to remember and honor Dragon.
So that’s where we were when Hannah snapped a photo of us, at our Leadership weekend. Take a look at the photo. We look happy. We were happy. Let me say it again, because happiness for us has been rare, kind of nonexistent. We were happy together. Sure, there were other moments surrounding that moment caught on film, but for that moment at least, those smiles were real.
To prove it, I have this picture.
Grace Kim and her husband Daniel founded the Dragon Kim Foundation following the tragic loss of their son. You can hear more of their story at dragonkimfoundation.org. Newsong is honored to host their foundation’s 2nd Annual Benefit Concert this Saturday, May 20. To purchase tickets, go to https://dragonkimfoundation.ticketleap.com/concert