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Archive for the ‘anniversary’ Category

Nine years

All this week we folded cranes. We are going to the Peace Pagoda again, as we did last year, and bring Jun-san the cranes. She had said they always needed cranes, and if she was not hard at work maintaining the grounds, she was folding cranes or stringing up the cranes that others have brought to her. We imagined that she would be delighted. And though we felt some sadness in missing Ferdinand, it comforted us to think that the cranes may bring comfort or a smile to someone when they find a new home.

Sometimes I just want it to all stop. I do not want to do it anymore. Do not want to be a bereaved mother, thinking of how to honor life and my son. I want to drop out, quit, run away. But this grief is like a shadow, it is always with you; you cannot shake it off, cut it off or run away from it. It is just always with you. Sometimes just silent and barely discernible. Sometimes it is like an annoying mosquito. And sometimes it’s an invisible oppressive force that threatens to swallow you up. But it is there, and mostly, by now, I have grown used to it. Comfortable. Might as well get cozy, for it will be with me till I die. And I do need it. I need to feel that grief for it is the only way I can connect to Ferdinand. It is perhaps more than just grief, but also a longing.

The girls want to arrange all the cranes into some form or shape. So I may take another photo later today, after we are done folding for the last time.

This morning I wrote the following:

Nine things I learned since July 29, 2007

  1. People are amazing. I am still bowed over by the kindness of people around me. People who just stepped up without fuss or words and just held the space for us. Walk along in respectful silence, sat with us and shared in our grief. I will never forget our neighbors at our cabin, who took the girls into their home soon after the dreadful reality broke on us, and just took such good care of them during all the time when we had to be at the hospital. And all those cranes, and flowers, words, food, and hugs. I still feel overwhelmed with gratitude.
  2. It is hard to not have a reason. It is hard to not think, “I must have done something really awful.” But along my journey I have met many fellow bereaved who are just the most amazing people. Bright, beautiful spirits with big, generous hearts. Yes, awful things happen to good people. No reason required.
  3. Pain is a part of life. I think, pain is a part of being alive, and living, of loving and being loved. It wouldn’t hurt so much if you hadn’t cared or loved. Sometimes it seems to be the only way I can connect to Ferdinand, and I lean deeply into the cut.
  4. Grief is sneaky. Some days feel so light, as if a storm never ever descended. And then the heavy hands of grief come and grab you, from behind, right on the throat and all memories flood back like a tsunami and you sink under. Often, it’s best to just surrender.
  5. One can never explain how you miss someone whom you never knew. We never saw his eyes or hear him speak, but we miss him sorely.
  6. Grief is not just about death. We all experience grief in one way or another. Different forms, and shapes and sizes. We lose something, tangible or not, and we grieve. It is a process of growing and understanding. Accepting and letting go.
  7. It is extremely difficult to find the right words. I still am at a loss.
  8. Love is so short, forgetting is so long. (Pablo Neruda) One of my favorite poetry lines, ever.
  9. Oh yes, life does goes on. Even when you felt it never can. I was incredulous that the earth still spun on its axis; the sun dared to rose and cars still ran on the road. But the truth is there is death every second, somewhere. And we have to keep moving. But we also have to take the moment to bow to it. To appreciate that there is death, so we may live more deeply.

 

I really wish he is here.

Miss you so much, Ferdinand. Loving and missing, always.

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It is true, the body never forgets.

And sometimes I think, the universe too. For every July seems long, hot, and oppressive. I will feel hot and bothered, tired and sticky, sad and unbelieving. But then, I guess July’s weather seldom change much.

However, this year is a bit different. Lyra has been told about Ferdinand, so we can all finally talk openly about him. Also, instead of staying home and drowning in grief, we ventured out.

We went to the Grafton Peace Pagoda. I had read about it in a magazine, and last week while we were out picking blueberries at a farm about 15 minutes away from it, we decided impromptu to drive by the pagoda to have a look. It was such a beautiful setting and I could feel peace while walking on the grounds, I decided to go back on Ferdinand’s anniversary, perhaps to sit on one of the many benches on the site and write Ferdinand a letter.

It was supposed to be a hot day so we planned to arrive early. We decided to walk to the pagoda via the “natural trail” instead of up the driveway. It was a lovely walk, full of greens, and we saw quite a number of cairns along the way.

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When we emerged from the forest, we were greeted with birds chirping, butterflies fleeting, and bees buzzing.The peace stupa stood regal against the blue sky.

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We decided to explore the grounds a bit more, using the verdant paths that some kind and wonderful volunteers must have carved out and maintained:

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After that we found the nun who takes care of the peace pagoda, Jun Yasuda. She first invited us to go to the prayer room for a simple welcome ceremony. We kneeled on mats while she chatted the peace prayer Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo three times, bowing deeply each time. Then she asked where we lived, our names, and so on. I explained to her that we were here because we visited briefly on Saturday and found it to be so peaceful we wanted to be here again on this special day, and was hoping to be able to volunteer for a couple of hours, in honor of Ferdinand. She was very compassionate about it. She showed us to the shed, where we helped to pour sand into various receptacles that will serve as luminaries for Hiroshima Day. Lyra was so happy to be the one to drop a tealight into each receptacle. Jun-san (as would be the way to respectfully address a Japanese) was surprised that we accomplished that pretty fast and asked if we could transport two buckets of gravel located on the steps of the pagoda to a commemorative peace pillar and spread the gravel around. The buckets were pretty heavy so it was team work together with the wheelbarrow. The girls saw some weeds on the ground surrounding the pillar and decided that we should weed as well, so we did just that. When we were about three-quarters way through, Jun-san told us to please stop and come to the prayer room, where she conducted a simple but beautiful flower-offering ceremony for Ferdinand’s spirit. She had cut 12 stalks of flowers growing on the grounds and put them in a bucket. Once she started beating on the drum and chanting, we took turns to pick a flower from the bucket, and then go forward to an altar table to put the flower into a vase, and then bowed three times. Jun-san told us we should bring the vase of flowers home.

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And then we were invited to the kitchen for a simple cup of cold barley tea and some cookies. There she told us about the peace cranes and the wonderful people who come to visit the peace pagoda. The stories were just amazing.

We went back out to finish spreading the gravel after tea, and then we took the vase of flowers and went home.

We were hot and tired from our work, but we all felt a sense of peace washing over us. It felt good to say his name out loud and have someone hold his name gently, and our grief so compassionately, without trying to explain it away or be told to not feel sad or to move on. During lunch we all agreed that we were glad to have gone to the peace pagoda. Val even said she feels she is not so sad anymore. Sophia and Lyra did not say anything. Val asked how I felt.

I could not really answer, because I still felt that choke in my throat and tears welling up. I felt more at peace, but I still felt sad. I think, that sadness will always be there, but it may feel less strangling. That sadness is just my body feeling love and longing for my son, the star voyager.

Still missing you deeply, Ferdinand, and hoping you are happy where you are. We all love you.

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After seven years, July still surprises me, how much it still hurts.

After seven years, we still miss you ever more.

Every July, I awaken with hopeful alertness in the middle of the night. Before I open my eyes to the dark, I will tell myself I need to look sharp, in case I see you, for I am sure you will disappear in a blink and I must imprint that image of you deeply in my heart.

But you never visited, even though I felt so intently that you are close by.

You are so far, and yet so near.

You are our star voyager. Far, far away, we cannot reach. We cannot touch. We cannot hold. We cannot kiss our little boy, and pinch his cheeks,. Yet between us we silently toss you within our hearts, cradling you ever so fiercely yet gently. When we sing, we hope the echoes of our voices reach you wherever you are. When we read, we imagine you must hear the stories too, and marvel with us.

You would have been seven. A child probably all excited about his birthday celebration, thinking balloons, cake and presents. Maybe trucks, maybe fireworks. Perhaps dinosaurs, or spiders, or a treehouse. Mud, ice cream and tadpoles. I do not know, I only imagine.

But I never really try to imagine you as how old you ought to be. You are either the baby whom I held, and did not want to give up to the unknown; or you are the grown-up boy who comes a-knocking on the door, always a dream and forever a fantasy of mine. I think, trying to imagine every year how you ought to be, is just too much for me. I just want to have you tiny to hold, or big to really bear-hug.

July is a month on the calendar, always coming after June, never out of line. Yet it always arrives with a long, hard stab. And then it never fails to be a long month, hot and slow. It is a month of memories. I treasure the time to re-visit all those lovely moments, when we anticipated you. And it is good to have the time and space to sit down and let the tears flow, because the truth is, I do not always allow myself the time or space for tears during other times of the year.

Your sisters, they miss you too. Often wondering how it would have been like to have a brother in their mix. Your littlest sister, she is unaware of you yet. Or is she? I cannot be totally certain. But I have not introduced you to her yet. I wanted to make sure she is old enough that she will not just feel sad and scared, but instead will have a sense of amazement and admiration for the brother whom she never met. Maybe next year. Sometimes I think she will just tell me, “I knew him all along. Ferdinand. Star voyager.”

I have nothing more to say. Still the same things, Ferdinand. We miss you, and we love you, forever more.

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::: <<<<  When humans could not understand, myths were born.    >>>> ::::

 

starry night sky photo: Starry sky :) _IGP0399-PBEdit.jpg

Image by mickl22

 

At the beginning of time, the Star Weaver tipped her pot and blanketed the dark night with twinkling stars.

And then the people were no longer scared of the long nights.

They looked up, and they pointed and they told stories about the stars.

The Star Weaver sat, her hair billowing in the gentle night breeze, and she listened to the fantastic stories.

And she began to move and arrange the stars so they became like actors on a stage, lined as they should as stories unfold.

And the people were happy and comforted, for their stories could now be repeated, and their sons and daughters pointed to the same stars, and told the same stories to their sons and daughters.

But the stars grew restless, they did not like staying in constellations. They fidgeted, slipped away, and made mischief.

And people began to get confused.

The Star Weaver created Star Voyagers, picked from the purest of the celestial beings, to travel amongst the stars, to coax them back in place.

One of the Star Voyagers wore winged boots and carried a lyre with him. He would sing soothing songs to the stars and they all loved him.

One day this Star Voyager slipped and he fell through the night, carried by the whisper of an earthly woman, and he fell into her womb. For she had raised her head in the deep of the night and wished for a child. He was not sure how that happened, and neither did that woman. But it did not take long for their hearts and souls to connect.

The Star Voyager’s time on earth was a wonderful one. He was full of curiosity and every day was filled with amazing discoveries.

But soon he began to yearn to be back with the stars high up in the skies again. He knew he has his duties to fulfill and if there were chaos amongst the stars the people may be fearful again. Sadly, he bid his earth mother, his earth father, and his earth sisters good-bye.

Oh, how heart-breaking was the farewell! There were so many tears and his earth mother felt she would die from grief.

The Star Weaver took pity on the earth mother. She plucked a star and place it on the Star Voyager’s lyre, so that she may always know where her star-child is, when she cast her eyes up to the sky, in search of her Star Voyager.

And so, to this day, the Star Voyager continues to travel across the starry sky, carrying his lyre with a star on it, and every night he sends love down to his earth mother, and earth father, and earth sisters.

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My dear Star Voyager,

you are ever so missed.

And loved.

And that is all.

Love,

your earth mama

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July

I know it is coming just like someone with arthritis feels the chill in the bones.

The air feels denser and oppressive. It is always too hot and the days seem long and annoying. I ache, and my mood plunge.

It is not that I do not feel the grief at other times of the year. I do, unpredictable as it has become. But as time wore on, grief wears softer, like an old T-shirt washed many times, its fibers all soft and forgiving, and one reaches out and puts it on without much deliberation.

But in July, the grief is always jarring, demanding attention. And I have to abide- literally wilting under the glare of its hot stare.

It is uncomfortable, because at other times I hardly talk about Ferdinand anymore, except with those in the circle.

Yet it is comforting in an odd way, knowing that my body instinctively remembers.

The time is here again, when my mind swims with memories, stars, ruby shades and disbelief. My body aches all over and my world seems to warp in dangerous ways that threatens to shatter.

I open the door to a dusty, empty room. I sit, and I wait. Perhaps he will knock.

 

“Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” ~ A.A. Milne

 

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Five years.

I have nothing fresh to say. No new insights. No fresh relevations. No wisdom to share. I have walked but have not veered onto a new path. There are no shortcuts, no new vistas, little consolation.

To be fair, time does slowly exert her effects of a slow numb. Life inevitably piles on distractions so you sometimes forget about the wound a little. At times, the memory will seem so distant you feel you are looking through a frosted glass to a movie on the other side, the story of another, but not of yours. The screams muffled, the contours blurred. Only when the movie on the other side has ended will you realize you have your hand over your heart, throbbing and aching.

I still miss him, terribly much. But I do not always find the time or space on a daily basis to remember. I still experience disbelief. I still sometimes look around and wonder, where is he? Where are you? I still have the illusion that I have somehow absent-mindedly misplaced him, somewhere.

This is the first year we spend his birthday out of the country. Here, everyone wants us to forget and forge on. They want us to be whole again and to stop hurting. I did not make a cake, it is just impossible to swallow. Instead, I made a donation in Ferdinand’s honor to the Tibet Water Project to bring clean water to one of the poorest parts of Tibet. He was born dry. I hope others get to enjoy clean fresh water in his honor.

I am seeing a delayed grief response in S. She was almost four when Ferdinand was born, and did not fully grasp what was going on. I have seen her experience very intense emotions last year and this. She even wrote a story that to me was her effort to make reason of what had happened. Needless to say, it broke my heart. But there is nothing to do but to roll with the punches. I just hope she can find closure faster than I do.

I wish I were a better shiny example of how to walk this path, but here I am, just trudging on.

How we miss and love you, Ferdinand. Happy Birthday, our brave little star voyager! I am sure you are twinkling at us right this very second. We love and miss you, forever.

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silent scream

I am fairly sure I have a tumor growing within me. I have four blogs and some days I still feel I do not have a space to say what I wish to say to the world. I read that is how you grow a malignant tumor.

First, you child dies. You learn about it, you scream in disbelief, you beg, you bargain, plead and holler. It did not change the reality. And then you feel there is nothing more to say, you have been silenced.

I remember how I wished to shake every person I met by their shoulders, to tell them about Ferdinand. I needed people to acknowledge his existence, I needed my tragedy seen and nodded at, faces of pity.

And then the well-intentioned but poorly executed remarks came, and then I realize I need to go scream someplace else. Otherwise I am deemed unwise, silly, incapable of moving on and too overly egoistic to think that life ought to go the way I wish it to be.

So I came here and I wrote. Mostly in screams, with clenched teeth and shaking fists.Grabbing dirt by the fistfuls and rubbing them them into my hair. Throwing myself in the dust and refusing to budge.

It helped so much, to be able to expend that pent up energy that is at once love, anger, missing, resignation, devastation, defiance and sorrow. I am forever grateful for the sympathetic listening ears and compassion I have found here.

And then, I moved on, as people said I ought to. Life inched back to some semblance of a norm again and then I embarked upon a journey of being randomly tossed about in the sea of grief. Sometimes it was high waters of bitter grief and isolation, sometimes it felt like floating upon gentle waves that gently lull.

As I inch out, day by day, away from that fateful moment of four years ago, my screams became less frequent, and I became less vocal. I  felt less the urge to inject into my answers that I not only had three living daughters but also one son who is not earth-side. I began to think, What is the point? It is never going to change a thing. I may just hear something stupid again or make people feel awkward. It will not bring him back to life, and it does not ameliorate my hurt and grief. This horrible gap between Sophia and Lyra will never be filled. This ache will never cease. People must get so sick of hearing the same old thing again. This grief and recurring feel of horror is not welcomed like the first hint of green in spring. I do not wish to feel that sense of dread when I talk to people.

And so, I walked on. Quieter and at times not even making the effort to part my lips to speak. It does not reflect the ebb of grief, but rather its internalization. First it was something that happened to me, now it is me. At least, a part of me. When I open my eyes in the morning he is there; when I toss about in my sleep, he is there. He is deep within, never here, never gone.

I still miss him deeply, but now it is a silent scream within.

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Today four years ago was the day we found out he was dead. This post is inspired by Jess‘s wonderful post over at Glow in the Woods.

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