I spent January 25, 2020 with my dad celebrating Chinese New Year at the Atlanta Lunar New Year Festival eating dumplings, watching musical and dance performances, exploring Asian vendors and Atlanta Chinatown, and chatting with other Chinese people about their stories.

2020 is the year of the rat – which means it’s my year! Rats are clever, optimistic, energetic, kind, and apparently, female rats love to keep things organized and take care of everything (if you know me, you know).

Traditionally, a zodiac’s year is the most unfortunate, laden with bad omens and mishaps. Those words are understatements compared to what my 2020 has looked like thus far, and it’s honestly felt like hell to suffer through. In the last 3 weeks, I’ve lost my mom, planned a funeral, wrote and delivered a eulogy, spoke at a burial, mourned with friends and family, and now I’m walking through a grieving process that brings contradicting emotions, random and uncontrollable tears, and a new ache in my heart that feels nothing but wrong and unfair.

But the horoscope this year is saying that 2020 will perform reasonably well for the Rat, that the year has a far better outlook than one’s typical zodiac year suggests. Although I don’t believe in horoscopes and manmade predictions, I am choosing to see this particular Lunar New Year that just happens to be my year this time around as a gift that represents new beginnings, fresh starts, and everything refreshing that comes with a new year.

Because despite my pain and the waves of darkness that I’m experiencing, I still have so much hope, and the God who loves us and knows what I need continues to give me signs of His goodness and mercy. Today it looked like a Lunar New Year Celebration with my dad because doing things with just him is part of my new normal now. This week it looked like easing back into my usual routine and reading hopeful words about the rest of my year, even if I don’t believe *in them. This month and probably the rest of this year (and honestly my whole life), it will look like survival and holding on to hope, but now my eyes and heart are fighting even harder to choose to see His signs of love.

Atlanta Lunar New Year Festival 2019