Songs That Choke Me Up

sad songs

Dear Mom,

I’ve been going to karaoke a lot lately. Though I have lost my voice from overuse or holding emotions in my throat (that’s a topic for a whole other blog post), I still like being around people who sing. And I am hoping to get my voice back to itself or stronger sometime soon.

The trouble is that songs years ago, that I really liked, and could have sung now…well, some of them are too hard to sing. Not because of the complexity of the song in my voice, but the complexity and utter anguish that it causes in my heart.

Did you know that my go to song when I first tried karaoke a few years ago was always Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper. It’s a great song, and fits well in my voice. But I can’t finish the line that says “If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting, time after time.”

Continue reading Songs That Choke Me Up

You’re Simply the Best

Dear Mom,

I’ve been trying to get over my fear of singing in front of people, so I’ve been going out to Karoake more often. I still get nervous, and can be hard on myself in terms of how my singing voice comes across, but I try to remember why I am doing this. It’s not supposed to be just about pleasing others, or about comparing myself to others. But just about using my voice to reach others, and to reach something deep down in myself. And to bring it out. But mostly, I want to sing for you, and I need to keep reminding myself of that. That keeps it real for me, or unreal, depending on how you look at it.

Unreal because I want you to be able to hear me. I hope you do. I hope you hear me and it brings you peace and happiness. I hope the resonance of music and my voice making it transcends this supposed boundary between heaven and earth, between you and me.  Even the songwriting that I’ve been dabbling in lately is for you.

I was sitting next to this guy at a sushi bar a couple of years ago in Seattle. And we got to talking, and he said it really well when he said something like, “The funny thing is that the more you sing and create music, people will think the songs are all about some guy, some big love and heartbreak in your life. But in fact, all the songs will be about your mom, and people won’t even realize.”

And he’s right, except for the “people won’t even realize” part.  Because I am going to tell them. I will make sure that as much as I can, I will be telling people about you, telling them that the songs are for you and about you.

The one I want to learn now is called Simply the Best by Tina Turner.  Because that’s what you are, and will always be- the best.  One of the hosts at the karaoke places sings the song a lot. She does such a great job of it. And even though it is an older song, she just makes me FEEL it, when she sings it. And so now, it is in my head often.  And you are in my heart always. And I want to blend the two together to sing You’re Simply the Best for you, my mother, the best thing that ever happened to me.

Thank you for being my mom and for giving me so much love and kindness and sweetness in my life.

This song, and all other songs really, are for you.

“You’re simply the best

Better than all the rest

Better than anyone

Anyone I ever met

I’m stuck on your heart

I hang on ever word you say…” 

Morning Prayer- 3 years now

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

~ Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi~

 

daisies

Dear Mom,

I can’t believe it’s been exactly three years now since you passed away.  It doesn’t feel that way at all. I can remember all the details as if it was yesterday. And it still is painful, as much if not as more, because now the reality of it all has settled in.  And that is so much more unsettling than anything I’ve ever had to face.

But I’ve included you in my thoughts- my morning prayers- every morning since then. I don’t think I’ve missed a day.  It’s not the usual kind of prayer. It’s more like me asking you what we should do for the day. How we should treat people, what choices we will make. It’s me asking you to the guide the way. I wonder if you hear me at all when I say the words.

I still put that picture of you and me off the window sill each morning, and say this prayer or list of questions “to you” while walking over to my little wine coloured shelf near the kitchen. I place your picture of us on the shelf once I’m done. And it stays there for the whole day. And in the evening, I take the picture off of the shelf and put it back on the windowsill, and turn on the little while string of lights that rest there, so that the picture and you are illuminated. I love it when the moonlight also adds to this.

I don’t leave the picture on the windowsill during the day because

1). I don’t want it to fade from the sunlight. I don’t need more things to add to this fear of you fading. Not that you ever will from my heart or memory. But time is not always a healer, I don’t think. Sometimes, it can blur my memories. And I don’t need one of my favorite pictures of us being blurred or washed out as well.

2) I don’t want the frame or the picture to get scorched by the heat like it has done to some other little trinkety things I have put there in the past.

I think I’ve posted about this before, but I’ve added more questions to it, so I am reposting it with the updated version.

Here it goes:

Hi Mom, 
Good morning. 

What are we going to do today?

Where are we going to go? 

What are we going to see?

Who are we going to meet?

What are we going to say?

What are we going to change?

What are we going to cry over? 

What are we going to laugh through?

What are we going to stand up for?

What are we going to believe?

What are we going to choose?

What are we going to create?

What are we going to paint?

What are we going to sing? 

What are we going to dance?

What are we going to write about?

Who are we going to date?

Who are we not going to date?

What are we going to achieve?

What are we going to dream?

Who are we going to help?

Who are we going to inspire. 

And then I usually sigh and say, “Oh mom.”

My heart hurts. But I know I need to keep going to make you proud, and make this life you blessed me with worth living.

Thank you, Mom. I hope heaven is treating you well.  I wish that sometimes you could show up in my dreams, the good kind of dreams, and tell me a story, or tell me how you are doing. I still worry about you.

 

Live Life

Dear Mom,

Again, I haven’t written to you here in awhile. It’s not that I don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes, I have so much to say. I don’t know where to start. And I think that it has to be something in particular. Something worthy of talking about or different than the usual just missing you.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? I mean, that was the problem and now is.  That even when you were here, I thought I had to do something big for you in order to go visit. That I had to have some plan or have something in particular in mind. And when I didn’t, sometimes, I just decided not to visit, or I ended up visiting you, spending a lot of the time figuring what we “should” do, what I could do. But I was missing the point. There was nothing that had to be done or planned. I should have just been enjoying all the moments I had with you.  But I didn’t. I wasn’t fully present, or I had other things on my mind. Or I wasn’t a good listener. Or I thought that I needed to take you on the ‘necessary’ errands.

But all that was necessary was appreciating the woman in front of me. The only one I wanted to really put my time into. The most important person in my life.  And somehow, I missed that. And that is what is breaking my heart. There are moments where I remember being “with” you, like right next to you, but not taking it all in.

And the other day, I was driving over Lionsgate Bridge to head to North Vancouver. And I felt so sad that I couldn’t just pop over to your place and visit.  I felt so sad at the millions of opportunities I had to do that more, and I didn’t enough while I had the chance. And now, I have no chances left.

It’s hard to live with that.  I have tried to keep this blog more positive, and not always say exactly what I am feeling, in case someone else reads it and worries about me. I have tried to have a purpose to each entry, or a theme or a focus.  But, that’s not really how I thoughts come out when I talk to you.  It’s sometimes all a jumble of sweetness, regret, grief, fear, sadness, guilt and worry.  And I realize that the only way that I can really make use of this blog, of this opportunity to spill my thoughts on these pages, is to just say what is on my mind, on my heart.

It’s not really a blog for other people. Anyone can read it, of course. And I initially wanted it to be a record of memories of you that I could share with your granddaughters when they are older.  That they have something to read. But I hope that you and they will forgive me for making this also just a place for me to talk honestly with my mom, no matter whether the writing makes sense, is sad, or doesn’t really feel like it is going anywhere.

Right now, I need it as an outlet to just be with you, Mom. It feels different than writing in a journal to you, though I did do that often for the first couple of years or so.  Those words seemed to have gone into the pages and stayed hidden there. I am too scared to go back and read them. These words feel like I am letting them go somehow- like they are freer to soar and just maybe make their way to you through the internet, through the Universe, rather than tucked away in a book, in a box, under my bed, too closed for anyone or the universe to fully get a grasp on.

I went to a little craft fair today, near my place. All the vendors were selling handmade items like scarves and jewelry and soaps and even slime! Oh yeah, I still have to tell you about who in our family is crazy for slime.  I bought her a little for Christmas. I hope she likes it. I will tell her it’s also from you.  Although, maybe that’s not the kind of thing you’d want to give to your granddaughter. Don’t worry, I will choose a few other things that might be more up your alley to give to her.  The other little munchkin granddaughter has some cute things coming to her from me and you too. Don’t worry.  I just didn’t see anything that she’d really like at that place.

But you know who I always automatically look for gifts for? You.  No matter where I go, whenever I see some earrings or a nice sweater or shawl, or bracelets, I think, “Mom would really like that. Or that would look good on Mom.” I almost said that to one of the vendors today. But I didn’t want to confuse her or sadden her by telling her that my Mom is not here anymore.  Or maybe I just didn’t want to hear myself say it out loud because it would sadden me to say it.

Somehow, I will always be shopping for you, Mom. Even if I don’t end up buying the items, you are always still the first person I think of when I do most kinds of shopping.  You’re always at the top of my list. It’s going to be another tough Christmas without you.  I will make sure to buy or do something in your memory.

I did feel very sad  about it today, and I remember wondering what I should do about it. How to get through this slump that I am feeling. And then a car passed by me with the license plate LV LIF, or was it LIV LF or LIVLIF?

I tried to take a picture of it but I wasn’t quick enough. Was that you again, Mom, letting me know I need to get my butt going and just enjoy the life that I have? I hope so. Because that could mean that you are watching over us up there, and enjoying your heavenly days.

Love Tas

You Are With Me Everywhere, Every Day

“When I am gone, look for me in every star,

every moon, every brand new day.

I am not gone.  I am everywhere with you dear.,

everywhere the light gets in.”

stargazing2

Dear Mom,

Yesterday, I went out to run some errands, and at a certain point, I thought I was lost. Lost in my own city, lot in my own neighbourhood, I was wondering what the point of all this roaming was.  Lists of things I ‘needed’ to get done throughout the day.  How did these lists even get made? I mean, how did I decide what to prioritize over what? And why?

My heart just felt heavy. I thought about you and how that should have been my main priority. And now, it hurts to not even feel like it’s an option- to give you my time, or love or get that unconditional love back from you. I was stepping on the pavement along the street, but felt a loss of footing, ungrounded.  I kept trying to keep myself focused on my list of things needing to get done, and not get distracted. But then I saw these pretty little cards and nick knack gifts at this cute shop along my path. And I stopped in not knowing what I was even looking for.

It turns out, I didn’t have to go very far. I hardly took two steps in, and IT found me. I didn’t have to even try. The first card, staring me right in the face. Or should I say fluttering it’s sparkly butterfly wings into my heart.  That little poem at the start of this blog entry is what was written on the card. And although I didn’t have my phone with me to take a picture of it, or even a pen to write it down, I sneaked open one of the pens that were on sale near me. And I jotted the words down on the corner of a little scrap piece of paper in my purse.  Don’t worry, I put the pen back where it belonged.

Hopefully, the universe will forgive me for taking a second to use a pen that wasn’t mine. I just felt like it was meant to be.  A message from you, I hope, I pray. A message telling me there is no reason to feel lost. You are with me, everywhere, every day.

I didn’t search for anything else in the store. Didn’t feel any need to delve deeper into all the cute items all around.

I walked out, walked to the bank- CIBC of course. Our bank.  And because I still don’t really like using the machines to make bill payments and check my balance (I’m very old school like that), I stood in line, and waited for a teller to be free.

I even remember thinking that I must have a lot of time on my hands to waste waiting instead of just quickening the process through the automated machine. But again, I was meant to be in that line. I am so glad I chose that “longer” path.  See, there was this older man in front of me. I’m guessing he was in his 70’s? I am not really sure.

But he was waiting too. And while he waited, he spotted one of those baskets or bowls of candy at one of of teller stands.  I thought he was just going to grab one, …or two? But he stuck his hand in their pretty deep and grab a bunch. Greedy little bugger, I thought to myself at first. Haha.  I thought for sure he was going to shove them in his pockets or something before anyone of the bank employees could catch him (Even though there is a camera not too far from where we were standing. But anyway…)

And you know what he did instead? He put his hand out to me, to tell me to take one or some.  Awww… my heart just melted.  “Have some,” he said, before he even took one for himself.

“Thank you,” I replied. “That is something my mom would do. It means a lot to me. Thank you.”

“My pleasure,” he said.

For some reason, I felt this need to add, “It almost makes me cry, because my mom passed away two and a half years ago. I remember she always used to pick up candy at banks while waiting in line, and give one to me and keep some in her purse.”

And he smiled such a genuine smile at me and said, “You know, I still talk to my parents, and they passed away a long time ago. We were taught that, that we could talk to them forever.  I came from a poor Irish family, but I was so lucky to have been brought up so well. I have had such a blessed life. Even my father never raised a hand or his voice to us. He didn’t have to. He would just look up at us and ask us to think about whether what we were doing was good or not.”

“Maybe you were meant to pass on a candy from my mom to me,” I said to him. “To remind me that my mom is always there.”

“Yes, she is,” he said.

And then he was called up to the next teller. And I tucked away the candy he gave me inside a corner of my purse, the purse you actually bought me, Mom.

You are everywhere with me, always.  I just can’t let it be any other way. I won’t let it.

I was, and still am, truly blessed to have you as my mom.

Love always and forever, Tas

 

 

 

Strumming for You

guitar girl

Dear Mom,

I’ve been playing my guitar, and it’s all really thanks to you.

Do you remember that time that I came to your place with my little three quarter acoustic guitar? And I barely knew how to play two chords. G and C, I think. Or maybe it was D and G, just because I couldn’t get my fingers to sit comfortably or accurate along the frets on the C chord.

I sat or almost stood on your couch. And I was just strumming the same two chords, very badly, I might add. But mothers never see the bad, do they? At least you didn’t.  When I stopped, and got frustrated, there was not even a hint of relief in your voice. I would have thought that anyone would have been so frustrated by the noise I was making. But not you. What did you say?

“Don’t stop. Keep playing. It sounds so beautiful. You should play in the Ismaili band.”

Haha. Mom, you could always make my heart melt. And on that day, I had no idea how much your words and that moment would mean so much to me. I had no idea how much that moment- your smile, your encouragement, the furry feel of that blue and orange plaid kind of blanket on the couch, and the warmth of my mother’s home would soak into me.  It had to. It has to. It is no longer there. I can’t believe that was only a few years ago. Another part of me can’t believe you have been gone over two years.

I have two guitars now, Mom. I still have the small one and now I also have a classical guitar that a friend gave me.  He wasn’t using it anymore. I play that classical one more because the strings are softer and the book I am practising from is geared towards classical guitar music.

I don’t play or practise often. But I know I won’t ever give it up. My mother taught me never to give up. Your voice, urging me to keep playing, stays in my heart.  I wish I could have played some songs for you- full songs. Not just a couple of chords. But I know that the chords were somehow just as beautiful to you as any complete songs. Because you just saw and brought out the beauty in me your daughter. It didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do. You just love me for me, and all that I was. You heard the music in me before I even brought it forth. You heard the songs before the were even played.

And so every strum, every note, every practice that I do practise is for you, Mom.  I will write some songs for you, to tell the world about you, and to also connect to you. Whether it’s with my guitar, with my keyboard, with just my voice or a combination of them. Or even if it’s just with my heart, I am going to make this music reach you somehow. I have to.

If you have been near me, especially in the past few days, you would have felt the surge of hope and energy and light I felt at reading this new book Crescendo, by Amy Weiss, I heard about through the Hay House World Summit.

It is precisely about this- about the power of music to transcend life and death. That there is no death, just transformation, and many lives.  It’s a beautiful story, Mom. I want to believe that you are at peace, and flying and free and resting, resting from the pains and worries and heartache that you may have felt in this life.  I want to believe you are always with me, but without any fear or hurt or regret or worry.  I want to believe I will see you again and again. And I wish that I could give a copy of this book to everyone around me.

And you know what the character’s name in the story turns out to be, right? Aria. Somehow, I don’t think this is any coincidence, not just for the musical themes in this book. Of course, that was intentional. But also that we have an Aria in our lives, in our family.  But I’ll save that for a whole other entry. A whole other story or maybe even a whole other life.  Many lives even. 🙂

I love you, Mom.

Thanks for the music, for making me believe I can create my own songs. All I want to do is to reach you through some of the magical notes, chords, sounds and silences.  I hope you can hear them, hear me, and feel me.  I just need to know you are okay, that you are well, that you are taken cared of and at peace.

Every song and melody and note is for you.

Love, always and forever,

Tas

Little Rookie

Dear Mom,

I had a t-shirt that said “Little Rookie” on it. Why do I remember that? I barely remember anything from my childhood. But that, for some reason, has stuck out to me for all these years.

I don’t remember exactly what the t-shirt looked like. I imagine it to be kind of a Tom-boyish t-shirt. Something sporty like a character riding a bike or playing soccer on it.  Or maybe I am just making that part up.  I don’t know. But I do know that the words “Little Rookie” were definitely sprawled across the front of it.

I am assuming you bought that t-shirt for me.  Do you remember where you got it? Zellers? 🙂  It was around that age, I think, when you worked at Zellers.  What was that like, being there at work?  Who did you work with? Sam Uncle?  Did you like going to work every day?  Were there regular customers who knew you?  What was your favorite part of the job?  What did you really hate about it?  Why did I never ask you these questions while you were here? Maybe I did, but things have become so cloudy for me.  I know you also used to say that you wished you could remember more about our childhood and growing up.  But you had a lot to do, Mom.  That was too much to remember.

Besides, it is not the details of the days that passed that were important. It was the feeling. And I want you to know that you always made us feel loved and taken cared of.  I know you went to work each day to take care of us. I know you wanted to spend that time with us more.  But you were an extraordinary mom. You did everything- you were the breadwinner, the nurturer, the caretaker, the father, the protector, the cook and the teacher. You taught us a lot, mom, through your actions, through your love, through your energy. The kind of energy only a loving mother could give.

That has stuck with me, and will continue to stick with me forever. There were some words you used as nicknames for me. One of them was “Rook”.  Was that some kind of term of endearment used in our culture? Or where did it come from?  I was going to say What does it mean. But sometimes, a meaning like a definition doesn’t seem so necessary when a feeling comes across from it more strongly. Sometimes, the feeling is more important. So “Rook” took on its own meaning to me.  I could feel the love and tenderness you were putting across through the word or name. It made me feel very special. It had a special quality to it.

So the combination of that and the Little Rookie t-shirt made Rookie stand out in my mind and heart a lot.  You calling me “Rook” didn’t have anything to do with the t-shirt did it? Or did you buy the t-shirt because you called me “Rook”?  I am assuming it was only a coincidence.

But it stayed with me. That word. And the phrase “Little Rookie”.  So much so that in the past, I was using it for several years for passwords on various accounts I signed up for online.  It’s funny how these things get embedded without us knowing it, right?

And so… the other day, when I was driving and again was struck by the license plate I noticed on another parked car (you know by now, this has been happening to me often), you can understand even more now why I wondered.  I wondered if you again had anything to do with it. Or maybe the Universe planted it there to pass on a message from you to me.

The license plate said ROOKIE.

I stared at it and then, as I have done in the past, I went around the corner and came back to that car. Stopped in a place where I could get out of my car and could take a picture of the plate.  It was like I wanted to show it to someone. To have “proof” that it really showed up.  But then I wanted to ask someone if it was just a coincidence or a real sign. And I had no one to ask. No one that I would believe maybe anyway, because how would they prove that they knew?

I guess, once again, it’s all about belief. What we want to believe and what we don’t want to believe.

I don’t know what I believe in these situations anymore. But what I do know, and I’ve said this before, is that I will just break myself down if I don’t believe in something, in these possible moments of magic, between me, and you and the Universe.

Will I ever know the answers even at the end of my life? I am trying to live my life for you, Mom. But I can’t help with all the questions.  I hope one day, there are answers, and the answers prove that all these ‘coincidences’ I see and feel have not been coincidences at all. But just proof that my mom is happy and at peace. And that a mother’s love never dies. And my mom just wanted to sparkle each of my days with a little message from her telling me that she is somewhere beautiful, being taken cared of. So there is nothing for me to worry about.

Love always, your Little Rookie- Rook (Ruk, or Ruku) You always had variations on it. And I loved them all.

Tas

 

…Something That Is Red

Dear Mom,

A couple of days ago, I was walking home near my place. And this cutest little child’s voice caught my attention.  I looked over saw this little girl, with kind of a bowl haircut, walking with her mom. They were holding hands at first.  It always melts and then almost stops my heart when I see mother daughter pairs, especially when they are younger. It makes me wonder what we were like together, when I was just a little kid.  And I wish I could go back to those times to really soak them in and savor every moment of them.

First, I could hear the girl counting things. Trees? Cars? And her counting would go up to ten and then her mother would say, “Are there only ten? Are you sure?” And so the girl would start again, her mother obviously trying to get her to practise counting past ten.

The girl started saying, “eleven, sixteen, seventeen, twenty!” and skipping numbers. It was adorable. I couldn’t stop laughing but they were behind me so they couldn’t see my facial expression

The mother was pointing out some things for the little girl to look at. It was so cute, the way the girl would react.  But I was almost in tears, wishing that I could get those moments back with you.  Wishing that I could just hold my mom’s hand again, whether as a child or adult. It didn’t matter.

When they got to another corner, the girl put out her hands and asked her mom to carry her.  Her mother lifted her up and started saying, “I see something that is…”  And I realized it was the same game you would play with us a lot. You know the one where you would call out a colour or a shape or a word, and say you saw it somewhere, and we would have to point to what it is that you were referring to?  Kind of like a parent-child version of Eye Spy. Yeah, they were playing that game.

I don’t even know if I remember actually playing it with you. All my childhood memories seem like such a fog. Sometimes, I think they are memories, and other times, I am not sure if they come from my own imaginings, or from photos, or from stories that other people tell me.

But this game in particular stands out, because I know that even just a few years ago, you would remind R and I about the game. I think you said that you would play it a lot with us, or especially with him, when you were in car.

So this woman said, “I see something that is red”, while she was holding her daughter in her arms and walking down the street. And her daughter was pointing out things that were’t red at all.  So her mother started laughing. She seemed to be pointing to all the parked cars, but they were black and blue. Until her mom said, “Oh yes, the headlights are red.”  I think it taught both of us something.  We both needed to look a little closer.

And finally, it turned out that a red car and the fire hydrant up ahead were what the mother was actually trying to get her to see. But I guess the daughter made her see some other things she didn’t notice at first too.

Thank you, Mom, for playing games with us, for pointing out new colours and signs to us, and getting us to notice our surroundings more.  I know maybe it was a game to keep us distracted an not bored during car rides or while we were waiting somewhere that was not within reach of other toys.  But those games planted good memories, good feelings, and a closeness between us that lives on in me still to this day.

I could be so sad about seeing other mothers and daughters play such games around me.  Missing you and knowing that that I could never bring that back.  Or, I could pretend that maybe you planted that mother and daughter to play that specific game around me, just because you might not physically be able to do it with me right now.  But you still wanted me to notice the red around me, the beauty, the child like freedom and the never ending love between a mother and daughter.

Love you, Mom.

Can you find more ways to play the game with me again?

Choose another colour or letter, or shape next time. And I will try to see what you are seeing.  It will be like you are right there with me.

Thank you, Mom.

Our Father

Dear Mom,

So our dad died over the weekend. But I guess you know that. I hope you do. Because maybe that means that you are doing well, and can help him pass through to ‘the other side,’ if that is even how it is referred to ‘up there’.  All these directions- up there, pass through, other side.  Is this even a direction thing? It’s just an energy thing, right. Not just, but you know what I mean.  Maybe there are no directions just spaces filled in the afterlife. No up and down or back and forth. But just around and within. Around us, within us.  Filling and energizing all of life all around us. Who knows?

I wondered why R asked me if I had walked to Steamrollers, when I told him, over the phone, that I was getting food. I realize now that he was just checking to make sure that I wasn’t driving when he gave me the news. Smart brother I have there, you know? Of course you know.

It was a very matter of fact conversation over the phone. Because how else can it be? I wanted to cry, but he was calling from Hawaii, and we don’t have that kind of relationship anyway.  Maybe that’s a good thing. One of us needs to be strong on the outside, and you know it is definitely not me.

But I cried after I got off the phone. I looked up at the sky, as I stood on the corner of Robson and Bute, and wondered if I am really here. Are any of us really here? I mean, this all feels surreal. Like we are on a movie set. But the thing is, we don’t know the plot or even our lines most of the time. We are just given them as each moment comes. And it’s confusing when it’s not the way you thought the story was going to go.  Shakespeare was right. “All the world is a stage.”  It’s just that some days, I feel like I’ve fallen off of even that.

I think these moments of someone calling to finally say that line you know he is going to say, “And he didn’t make it,” are the moments where I am forced to step off the stage and look at it all from the outside in.  And then I wonder how R felt when he got the call too. I know he loved his dad, in his own way. We just didn’t know him.  It’s a weird feeling.

Did you know that just a few months ago, maybe last year, or something like that, I learned that our dad didn’t have parents? I mean, of course he HAD parents, but he didn’t know them. He said they died when he was young. And he doesn’t know exactly how they died. A cousin or young family member took care of our dad and his siblings. But they didn’t have much. And it was too overwhelming for the cousin. Maybe too much responsibility. And the cousin decided to take his own life.

Did you know this about our dad, Mom? You never told us.  When I found out, I was so confused. Because I had gone out to Khane that day, in Burnaby, specifically knowing I was going to go out and seek out my dad. He was normally there and I had some things to say to him. Some not so nice things, after you passed away.

He first asked me how I was, and I said not good. My mom just died.  And that’s how the conversation about his parents came up. He just brought it up.  He said, “Well, at least you had all these years with your mom.  I didn’t even know my parents.”  Jeez, Mom.  Many things started to make sense from just those few words. Of course our dad didn’t know how to be a dad. He not only didn’t have a dad to raise him, but he didn’t have parents to raise him at all. No one to love him and show him that he was valued and cared for and that he needs to believe in himself.  He didn’t have an all in one set of parents like I did- a mom and dad in one little, strong woman- you.  I was lucky, Mom. I was so lucky to have you.

But the thing is that’s what I had on my mind. Here he was, my dad trying to just open up to me in that moment and finally tell me something about himself. But I had you on my heart. So I was mad- about why he couldn’t have been there for you. Why he made you do everything yourself. He said that he tried to stay in touch, but we didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with him. We were kids, I said to him. You’re the adult! What did you want us to do?

It was a stupid argument, Mom. I realize that I shouldn’t have said all of that without knowing his story and where he came from. But I wanted to finally stand up for you. I wanted somehow to make things better for you by standing up for what you deserved, to let him know that you had a hard life trying to do everything yourself.  But that you still did such a wonderful job of it. But you know what? I think I just made things worse for him.  It probably broke his heart to hear me say those things.

I tried calling him the next day to apologize.  His sister answered. She had no clue what I was saying or who I was. She kept me on the phone forever, trying to figure out why I was calling for him. And finally, she gave him the phone. I tried apologizing. I thanked him for telling me the story of how his parents weren’t around and how his other family member who was taking care of him died by suicide. I tried telling him about my work with teaching highschool kids about suicide awareness and stress management. He didn’t seem interested. Or maybe he wasn’t feeling good.  I even thanked him for marrying you so that we could be born. But I think I said something like it allowed us to have the mom we had. And maybe I didn’t acknowledge his value or his part in all of it. No, I definitely didn’t.

I don’t know what was going on on the other line, but he didn’t say much at all. He almost seemed upset or annoyed, and tried to just get me off of the phone. And I felt emptier after that phone call than before I called. And of course, he never called back.

A couple of months later, or less, I went back to that Khane in Burnaby. I brought a black and white photo of you and our dad with me, to give to him. I thought he might want to see it. You both looked so happy and he was looking at you so lovingly.  Maybe it was also kind of going to be my peace offering. A step in reconciliation. But he wasn’t there. No one knew where he was. I was going to leave the photo with someone there, someone who said he knew my dad and could pass it on to him. But I didn’t give it to the guy. I wasn’t sure what the best thing to do would be.  I thought I should try again another day, so that I could give it to my dad in person and explain why I was bringing it to him. But I never did.

I thought about it many times, but I wanted him to make some effort too. I mean, I might be an adult, but he is still older and is still the dad. Maybe I was being stubborn. I agree with my friend Agata who yesterday allowed me to see that maybe I was still feeling like the little girl who wanted answers. It wasn’t that I didn’t care or didn’t want to be considerate. But there is still this little girl inside me, his daughter, that wanted to know why.  But I was too late, or didn’t try hard enough.

I know deep down inside, that I might have really been able to at least end things on a better note, that I could have come to better understand my dad if I had just asked him more positive questions like, “Were you ever in love with my mom?” And “Tell me the story of how you two met.”  But something stopped me from starting there.  I had so much pain in me over losing you, Mom. I wanted to first know how he could make such a loving, beautiful woman like yourself do everything alone. Even if you pushed him away, even if he didn’t have any money or was going through health problems, even if he thought we were not wanting to get to know him. I just love you so much, Mom. And I feel like your life would have been so different with more help from him, from all of us, maybe. Maybe this is just more about me, and my guilt of not doing enough for you. It’s like I am looking for other people to blame.

But look where it has gotten me? Another sad ending with another parent. Sure, he wasn’t the caregiver who gave us unconditional love and support the way you did. But he was still my dad. So… that feeling of the way I left things off on such a bad note is still crushing.  I wonder if I didn’t put more effort into sorting it out because, if I didn’t have the perfect ending with you, I didn’t want it to be a great ending with him. Stupid, isn’t it? But there was a part of me that always felt like I would somehow be a traitor to you if I went to my dad to find out more about him or to form a relationship with him. I wouldn’t have known how to. And I don’t think it would have felt comfortable. But I didn’t really try, so who knows.

Do you think he passed away not long after you because he really loved you? I mean, you hear about couples who were together for so many years and then one dies, and just months later, the other dies.

I know you didn’t have a loving relationship, and you ended things so many years ago on a really bad note. But, someone in our family, just after your passed away, told me that he felt that our dad loved you very much.  It makes sense to me in that even though he might not have been a good support or a healthy partner for you, how could he not love you? How could anyone not have loved you?

I wonder if your death, despite all the distance between you two for all these years, diminished him. Depleted his health and energy more.  I’m sure what I said to him didn’t help. And I feel badly for that. But do you think, when he crosses over to the other side, that maybe he will be very happy to see you? Maybe you two will be able to reconcile your differences and see things more clearly from each other’s point of view.

I was always on your side, Mom. Don’t worry about that.  But it’s kind of sad that I even felt I had to take a side.  It made things very complicated and confusing for me, not just as a kid. I don’t actually remember those years much. But more as an adult, who wanted to resolve those childhood issues.  And now,  I can’t ask either one of you about your relationship.

Maybe you guys can find a way to relay the story to me from wherever you are now. You might not be together, which is totally understandable and fine. But maybe you both have a way of reaching us now in a way that wasn’t there before.

I love you, Mom. Thanks for being my mother and father.  It was a tough job, I know.

And because of the loving mother that you were and are, I know you would have probably wanted me to resolve things with my father in a more loving way than I did.  I am sorry I did not pull through on that one. But please tell him that I am grateful for both of you bringing me and my brother into this life.  And we will do our best to take care of each other.

Love always and forever,

Tas

Dragonflies

Dear Mom,

I went to a show the other night with two of my friends.  But instead of watching the actors on stage, I found myself pleasantly distracted by the dragonflies that swarmed above us.

We were at Theater Under the Stars at Stanley Park.  And at first, I thought it was just one dragonfly.  You know, another sign, from ‘you’.  So I had my eye fixated on it.  But it seems that maybe it’s an area where a lot of dragonflies come to? I don’t know. That’s what I thought I heard.  And so, at first, I was a little disappointed. Like it was just a usual occurrence there.

Because you know I’m obsessed with dragonflies, right? And you know why? Because of the necklace you bought me on my la…, I was going to say my last birthday. It wasn’t my last. It was two years ago. But it felt like my last in a sense, because birthdays AFTER the person who gave birth to me is ‘gone’ just don’t feel like birthdays at all.

Anyway, you bought me this pendant and necklace. Do you remember? You were really sick that day. But we were in Capilano Mall. And you kept insisting that we get this pendant. It was beautiful.  A blue butterfly, we thought. At least that’s what I assumed it was. And to my knowledge, you weren’t familiar with what dragonflies were. So I am sure you thought it was a butterfly too.

I think about that moment now, and realize that either you or something in the Universe knew it was going to be the last present. Maybe you didn’t know. But you obviously felt very adamant that you were going to get me something.  Gosh, Mom, how that something became the thing that represented ‘everything’ to me.  Because wasn’t it only a couple of weeks later, not even, that you were in the hospital? I am so lost with time.

One day, many months or I don’t know how long after that, I went to get a massage in lower Lonsdale.  The girl who usually gives me massages said, “I love your necklace. Dragonflies are really meaningful to me.”

Dragonflies? I thought. But this is a butterfly, isn’t it?

Then, she told me that she could tell it was a dragonfly because of the tail.  And we started discussing the significance of these magical creatures. Their blue wings, their light and airy presence, their unique look and especially how they are supposed to be good luck. When you see them.  And I’ve been learning more about them ever since.

  • I’ve learned that the Dragonfly is the world’s fastest flying insect
  • That seeing them more often can represent being more receptive to messages from the Universe.
  • People who have absorbed and retain the energy of the Spirit of the Dragonfly are often good healers
  • A dragonfly paperweight will help to bring harmony to the environment.
  • You can call upon the energy of the Dragonfly Spirit to your mind- for healing of emotional wounds and grief.
  • “The Dragonfly has a 360 degree field of vision, the eyes have 30,000 facets, each of which is a separate light sensing organ. The Dragonfly has a particular optical illusion called motion camouflage, moving in such a way to project itself as a stationary object, whilst moving at great speed, as a method of self protection against all that would cause them harm.”
  • The oldest known species of Dragonfly are 320million years old, and appear in fossils.
  • When a dragonfly shows up in your life, it may be a reminder to bring more joy and lightness in your life. It can also be a message that it’s time for change.

I can’t find any specific writings on it now, so I don’t know if I made this next part up, but I thought that dragonflies were a symbol from heaven. So I’d like to think that they are telling me that you are okay, that YOU are telling me that you are okay. And that you are bringing me this beautiful flying insect, out of nowhere, especially when I am feeling really down and worried about you, to tell me there is nothing to worry about.

Because it wasn’t just in Stanley Park that I saw dragonflies. What about the one I saw a couple of weeks ago, when I was really sad after an appointment? I was thinking about you and all the medical things you had to go through. Some of which I don’t know about exactly. And I felt so heavy hearted and teary eyed. And I’m walking back to your car. Yes, I still call it your car as that’s what it was. And right there, on a side road in Kitsilano, I catch something out of the corner of my eye. And sure enough, it was a beautiful dragonfly. I followed it, and imagined that it was also following me. We did this little dance between the two of us for some time. And then it kind of just disappeared into the bushes or trees, and it was gone, just like that.

But the feeling it brought me- the lightness, and weight it lifted off of me, stayed with me for some time after.

And when I think about it, I have seen quite a few dragonflies since you passed away. Even at the skytrain station, when I realized I took the wrong train and wondered why I was even there. Why I made that mistake. I end up being accompanied on my wait by a dragonfly, just whisking above my head. Around and down and up and in circles, just flitting about.  I didn’t care anymore about the ‘wrong’ train I took. I felt almost like I had gotten a little taste of heaven in that moment. And I hope that heavenly message was from you.

So many people now know about my obsession with dragonflies. One of my friends from a grief therapy group I went to just months after you passed away sends me messages whenever she encounters dragonflies. She says she thinks of me and you at those times.

And even A. and K. and R. chose a dragonfly charm for my Pandora Bracelet (yes, the bracelet you bought me), as a Christmas present a couple of years ago, because they know how much I love dragonflies.  Because of you.

Thank you for that beautiful gift, Mom. I get so many compliments on the necklace whenever I wear it. I haven’t been wearing it as much lately only because one day, I realized the chain had undone, and I was so relieved that I didn’t lose it or the pendant. So I am just being more careful with it now.

But thank you for bringing my dragonflies, the spirit and magic of dragonflies. I hold them dear to me, as a sign that you are surrounding me always. And that you are surrounded by those and even more beautiful creatures and energies every moment of every day.   That you just send down a little taste of all the beauty that is around you now in heaven.

I love you.

Tas