the blank space

Been staring at this blank, white empty space for a long time.

I feel much. But my mind is like this void, which I don’t know what to fill with.

Random thoughts.

Sudden tears.

Breathe. Normal again.

Get busy.

And the cycle repeats itself.

*

‘How have you been?’ the Amazonian texted me just two days ago.

‘Well, I discovered something new today.’

‘Which is?’ she asked.

‘It’s very difficult to brush your teeth and cry at the same time…’ I replied.

‘Shit. I felt that,’ the Amazonian texted back.

*

‘How are you?’ the Sister asked me.

‘Aside from breaking down at weird moments for no apparent reason? And being a total emotional-ass? Pretty good,’ I replied.

‘Me too… darn it! I’m starting again,’ she said.

*

‘Hope your mom is good and well,’ the Visitor texted me.

‘She’s good…’ I answered, and began detailing her travel plans, before ending it with, ‘I miss mom.’

‘Even after all these years, I still miss my mom,’ the Visitor said, explaining that his mother had passed on years ago… and this time… I felt it…

Reminding me that we both are our mother’s children… and what we miss most about them, their strengths and unique abilities, are what we’ll find surfacing in our lives, over and over again. Truth is, they aren’t ever that far away from us.

*

‘I’m doing my best to encourage myself,’ Mother wrote to me. ‘I was having a conversation with Obachan and to tell me something, she took me from the north pole to the south pole, to Timbuktu and Iceland… and I got lost somewhere. I miss living with you all.’

And all this while, I thought Mother was doing fine without us. Little did I know…

‘Did you cry?’ I asked her during our skype conversation today.

‘Yes… on the plane. I did.’

And from that point onwards, we could barely make out what the other was saying amid the sniffles and shaky voices.

*

Standing there during the service, it was hard to raise my hands. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. No. I was afraid that if I allowed the words to enter my heart, to sing with abandon like I usually do, I would crumble. I didn’t need to let anyone else see how messy my insides were.

‘But you understand, don’t you?’ I asked the Dream Maker. ‘I mean no disrespect.’

‘Yeah, I do,’ He said. I felt His hand gently hold mine that were tightly clasped together. The love almost made me start crying.

‘I’m losing it!’ I whispered to Him through gritted teeth.

‘Right,’ I heard Him laugh softly.

*

‘What did the Big Boss say?’ the Mother asked later.

‘There was so much! Hold on…’ I grabbed my notebook and began reading out the lines I took down. Oddly, after letting the words pass through me again, I felt better.

Ahhh… I gotta go. Obachan got up and says she’s hungry. Tomorrow?’ Mother asked, Obachan’s voice beckoning in the background.

‘Tomorrow.’ I replied with a smile and shut down the connection.

*

‘I made you some lemon bread… and lemon bars,’ Kitty smiled a little bashfully.

‘Oh my… thank you so much,’ I replied. She knew that lemons were one of my favourite fruits. And I was always griping about how it’s hard to find the perfect lemon-y tart, cake, bread…

But it was more than a lemon-y thing that Kitty made. I felt her hug through the items she made.

‘I’m just glad they made you smile…’ she said.

*

Then there was the newly-wed couple who were just there. Knowing, and ready to be, well… there for me.

Spike who didn’t want to ask too much, but who wanted to show he too, understood.

Cutesy and JapGirl who took over my work while I was gone.

The Husband who sat by my side, quietly, patiently watching over me even when I wanted to be alone.

The little boy who climbed onto my lap and cried with me.

The little girl who held my hand, committed to being there for me.

Signs of love written on the wind. They were every where I turned.

I am not alone.

*

‘Well, at least this shows things are getting better. CNN/BBC etc are all reporting on other news now, like robbers and politics,’ a fellow Japanese twitter-er posted. He was of course, referring to the deluge of Japan-related news that dominated the headlines of every news agency the past week.

And all I can say is, I am likewise doing better.

I know it because the blank space that imprisoned me for the past few days isn’t quite so blank anymore.

Life is interesting again.

*

Thank you dear friends for just being there.

For sharing your stories.

Those few minutes helped. More than you probably knew it.

And the Dream Maker? He never stopped reaching out to hold me.

how can we be strong?

‘Can I come with you?’ she asked.

I stifled a sigh. Going out to run was a very personal time for me and if she came along, I knew I’d be held back. She would want to talk, try to keep up… in other words, I wouldn’t be able to do things selfishly and at that point in time, I wanted to be self-centred.

‘Why do you want to come?’ I asked. ‘You know it’s hot out there and I’m usually silent when I run.’

‘I just want to be with you,’ she answered.

My heart melted. How many more years will I have with her before she would rather be with her friends? What good is ‘me’ time when ‘we’ time is limited? I have the rest of my lifetime to do things solo, but with her… it was good enough reason to share.

We laced up, stretched and hit the track. Amazingly, she kept up with me for a good distance before giving up and heading to the playground to wait for me.

‘You did great today,’ I said on our way back.

She smiled and held my hand tighter. ‘I like being with you.’

We shared a sweaty hug as the dark clouds rolled in…

*

After writing about the Father last night, I started thinking about my own little ones and how I can best equip them for a world that is grimy, gritty and harsh. How can I teach them to see the rainbows through the rains? Will they give up? Will they get sucked in? Will I always be there to hold their hand? And even if I was, would they turn to me and would I be able to help?

I put aside my books, laptop and work, took them for a short walk before dinner and raced with them to the mall. On our way back, I walked behind them and felt so small.

‘Will you hold their hand and fill in the gaps where my love falls short?’ I asked the Dream Maker.

‘I will, as I did for you. You turned out okay, didn’t you?’ He said while I nodded.

‘They’re yours then,’ I said, ‘And umm… thanks, for being the Father I needed.’

‘Always,’ He answered with a wink.

*

To See a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

– William Blake

When He holds my hand, I know I have infinite possibilities within reach. It is the strength I need to take my next breath, the joy to break my face into a smile, the anchor in my turbulent emotions.

He was there when I had nothing. He gave me hope.

He was there when I was broken and used. He gave me beauty.

He was there when I was alone. He gave me love.

He was there when I finally laughed again.

And He held my hand tighter with all that He had.

*

‘How do you do it?’ I asked the Amazonian. She copes with her newborn child, takes care of her 9 year old half-sister and 13 year old half-brother. She coaches them in their studies, cooks, cleans, does part-time work… the list is endless.

‘I get exhausted just hearing about all that you have to handle and still you laugh and have lost none of your wacky humour,’ I continued.

‘There are challenges but you know what? As long as I know my husband is there beside me, backing me up 100% of the way, I can handle anything,’ she answered.

We all need that Someone in our lives.

Who’s yours?