diary of a beautiful girl

I have a cracked reflection of things beautiful.
I lost the wonder beneath the things that once were.
Standing in the middle of my room, I begin to cry
Because of who, no, what I saw in the mirror.

I hate to admit this but I’m going to anyway. Realization is the start of discovery and maybe I’m hoping that by being honest, with myself, with you dear reader… I will start on the road afresh. I’ve been sitting by the side, wallowing in the dirt, heaping condemnation upon condemnation on my head. Not anymore.

Since a year ago, I’ve piled on the pounds. From a UK8/10, I now have to buy clothing in a size 12. It may not seem much, but it’s been enough for me to enter a state of horror and frustration because for the first time in my life, there’s nothing I can do about it.

I tried dieting. I tried exercising. I tried giving up. I tried to not care. I tried believing. I tried speaking. I, I, I. And each time I try something and it fails, I enter a deeper realm of self-disgust.

You’re pathetic, I said to myself. Others have more serious challenges to deal with, you have more important matters to concern yourself with. But faced with a closet filled with clothes I can no longer wear, comparing myself to the world’s lack or beauty only fuels the downward spiral.

‘I don’t think it’s just the weight,’ the Mother said. ‘When did the weight start to affect you so much? I remember when you first started putting it on, you were happy! You were fit and ready to do anything! You had a healthy self-image. You were running, and trekking, and going to the gym…’

‘I don’t know. I think it started in June. I have no inspiration to get out there, to care for myself anymore.’ I muttered at the computer screen. We were conversing via skype. ‘I don’t even write anymore. I don’t listen to music, I don’t read. I’m just… existing.’

‘It sounds like you’re mildly depressed,’ Mother said. Mildly depressed?

‘Was it after I left?’ Mother asked quietly.

‘I don’t know…’ I looked away because the tears were threatening to spill.

Mother was right. Ever since she left, I feel more alone than ever before. Yes, I am surrounded by love but nothing can ever substitute Mother’s caring for me.

And that’s when it dawned on me – I’m not facing a problem with my weight. It’s just a symptom.

I’d been eating to fill the hole inside my heart. I would walk to restaurants, just to order something that reminded me of her. I’d plan dinners that she used to plan. And every morning I’m alone, I’d sit at the dining table (where we used to sit together) and eat, eat, eat…

The oddest thing is, no one around me seems to understand how hard this is.

‘I miss my mom,’ I’d confide in my close friends. And after a nod, they’d change the subject to ask me how she’s doing.

Perhaps it’s hard for them to empathize with me. You see, it’s not just a mother-daughter relationship I have with Mother. She’s my best friend. She is my confidante. She’s the only person who senses my mood changes and is gutsy enough to go for the jugular and meet me heads on to question my belief system. She makes me a better person.

And without her… maybe I didn’t feel that good a person anymore.

‘You know I’m still here,’ she said. ‘I’m always here. You’re my daughter and I’ll still step in to help if you’d let me.’

And therein was the clincher. After she left, I thought I needed to be independent. I stopped updating her about everything in my life. I did my best to be her, to be like her as I handled the household affairs and family relationships. But I’m not her.

Deep inside, I was also struggling because I know why she needed to leave. I am in total support of her decision and at the same time, the selfish part of me was angry that she had actually left. That for the first time in my whole life, I had to face life without mother by my side.

‘I love you.’ Mother smiled at me, her face out of sync with the video feed. ‘I’m always here.’

‘I love you too.’ I whispered back, before logging off from skype and crawling into bed.

*

Something changed after that.

This morning, I looked into the mirror waiting for that sense of disgust to well up but it wasn’t there.

I had time to meet up with friends, enjoy a funny movie with the family and for the first time in months, lunch and dinner passed without the strange appetite I’d been fighting against.

At night, I walked over to the mirror and, summoning all strength into my articulation, I worked my lips and tongue to shape words I hadn’t said to myself in a long time.

‘Hello beautiful.’

*

Thanks mom, for loving me even at my ugliest. I love you… with all my heart.

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letter to mom



Dearest Mommy,

Today was the first day in many years that we didn’t speak with each other.

You were always there, seated at the dining table in the mornings. You were there when we traveled to work together. And even through the weeks when I was working so hard I knew neither day nor night, your presence was always felt. You never failed to send me a text message or email, asking if I was having dinner at home or staying back at work late. Back then, I thought you were just ‘checking’, like all mothers do. Now I know, it was your simple way of reaching out to me, without being intrusive.

I still have to resist turning my head towards your desk, when I walk into the office. And for a split second this morning, I thought I heard you in the dining room… that’s how deeply ingrained you’ve been in my life. I’m not sure how many other daughters get the chance to live and work with their mothers. Some might scoff and shudder with that very thought, and if they do, I wish I could lend you to them to show just how sweet and rich a mother’s presence can be in a child’s life.

And we all are someone’s child, aren’t we?

Today, I sat in the office during my lunch break, wanting to be alone for a bit… when a scene flashed across my mind.

I was about three years old, seated on our old kitchen table, reading a book that you gave to me. It was a favourite of mine, I think, because you read it to me every single day. And on that particular day, I was proudly reading back each word to you… the sense of accomplishment thrilled me.

‘Mommy! Mommy! See… I’m reading all by myself! Are you listening?’ I remember saying as you busied yourself with the cooking. I didn’t know then the mental struggle you were going through because Father had left the family. Neither could I even begin to understand how much pain you felt each time you had to leave me with the babysitter’s when you went to work.

All I can remember is that you turned around, looked me in the eyes, and smiled.

‘I’m listening.’ You said.

And you were telling the truth. You never did stop listening, even when years later, as a teenager, I refused to hear you out. I would rant, shout my frustrations, cry because I thought no one understood me… and still, you listened. It came to a point where I didn’t want to talk anymore and determinedly shut the world – and you – out of my life.

Yet you waited, your ear inclined to me.

I sought the comfort I once knew with you, from my friends and other worldly fillers, but there were no replacements. The harder I searched, the lonelier I felt. That’s when I opened the door to my heart… and found you there.

There was no repayment that needed to be made. You picked up right where we left off, as though my wandering years didn’t happen.

And like the child who sat on the kitchen table, who read back the words you once read to me… I began listening to you as your stories unfolded, because mommy dearest… the seeds you planted in me were never lost.

‘You are my mother’

And though we are many miles apart, I just wanted to let you know…

I am so proud of you, and what you’re doing over there in Japan. I’m always here for you – whenever, wherever – so please don’t ever think you’re intruding or that I’m too busy. Because no matter what happens on my side of the earth, no matter how chaotic my hours might be, as long as you ask me, ‘Are you listening?’ My answer will be consistent, just like yours always was.

‘I’m listening.’

We will get our perfect endings, not because you’re a perfect mom or me, the perfect daughter… far from it. It’s simply because we know the Dream Maker wrote our story. And well, He likes happy endings.

Love you so much,

Your daughter.

 

 

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.

the land ahead…

Surreal.

While many around me watch with a mixture of fascination & horror as events unfold in Japan, I sit with Mother, discussing her move to Atami. Ironic how she was traveling back to a place filled with disaster when the rest of the world was trying to get out.

‘Sakiko’s relatives are still missing,’ Mina-san said to me at the table, as we tried to enjoy ourselves at Mother’s farewell dinner. ‘Her mother and father are here, but everyone else is back in Miyagi.’

‘Did she grow up there?’ I asked. Sakiko was her colleague and close friend.

‘Yes… it’s her hometown. She received news that her best friend is dead. Her mother can’t eat because her younger brother is still missing, as is the rest of the family. And her father’s entire business was built in Miyagi, so now, he basically has no work to return to.’

The sashimi managed to get stuck in my throat. And that was when our phones beeped. We had set it to receive notifications whenever there was news from Japan.

‘Five minutes ago, there was another earthquake, this time further down south, in Shizuoka.’ I said. ‘The earthquake measured 6.0 in magnitude…’

‘Shizuoka?’ Mother looked up. ‘That’s far away from Miyagi.’ And a little closer to where Mother is going to be in two days’ time. Mina-san quietly began texting on her mobile. Her family was in Kanagawa, a prefecture beside Shizuoka.

‘Is everything okay?’ I asked.

‘It should be. They’ve already suffered the worst on Friday, but I’m just checking to see that they’re all doing well.’ Thankfully, they were. ‘Although my sister just had a massive quarrel with her husband.’

‘Quarrel at a time like this? What happened?’

‘She was pissed that while they – mom and her – were busy hiding from things that could fall, he was snoring on the couch.’ Mina-san laughed.

It felt good then to smile again. Still, this disaster feels too real and it’s getting under my skin. I know these people. I’ve lived with them. Japan is my second home… and to see what’s happening to the country is akin to watching a gang of brutal rapists attack someone you love.

You feel helpless, angry and weepy, all at the same time.

*

Tired of the news footage I’ve seen so far, I decided to browse some pictures that talked about the human plight, strength, resilience and courage. Here are some (of the best) I found from Life. You can click on the pictures to lead you straight to the gallery itself.

Holding On (March 12)
A soldier carries an elderly woman on his back as people are evacuated to a shelter in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture.

Lining Up (March 14)
A mass of people wait to buy food at a grocery store in hard-hit Sendai.

Please Call (March 14)
Thousands are missing in Japan since the quake. Here, a woman posts a message for loved ones at an evacuation center in Natori.
Aftermath
A young survivor surveys the destruction in the northern Japanese city of Ishinomaki, two days after a tsunami ravaged the coast. In the days following the quake, as the waters receded, the nightmarish scale of the destruction became evident: entire towns were, in effect, wiped from the map; cars, buses, homes, people were washed away…

Doing Her Part
Neena Sasaki, 5, carries family belongings from her destroyed home in Rikuzentakata.

Smiles Amid Ruin
A soldier smiles as he holds a four-month-old baby who, along with with her family, survived the tsunami’s devastation in Ishinomaki.
Sharing The Pain
A woman holds her granddaughter at a shelter at Natori.
A Moment To Remember
A man lights a candle in memory of the victims of Japan’s massive March 11, 2011 earthquake in a park in Sendai. It is believed the death count in Japan could reach 10,000.

*

I’ve never been in a nuclear reactor. For those of you like me, here’s a gallery of pictures you can browse (not of those in Japan but a historical walk through) to help make sense of everything happening in the news.

*

Throughout the past few days, Mother hasn’t once lost her cheerful outlook on life. In light of all that’s happened, she’s utterly convinced that heading back to Japan is the right thing to do. And I can’t agree more. If there ever was a time when my grandmother and relatives need her, it’s now.

I can be unselfish about that. She being there would also allow us back here to direct our help in a more focused way. But I’ll miss her ability to laugh at the most dire of circumstances and honestly, Mother is such a beacon of encouragement and light. Am I fearful that I’ll sink into a deep pit of darkness once she goes? A little. My heart has been aching in a million places these past few days – for the people in Japan, for the history that many have lost, and yes… for me. But I’ll manage.

I’m going to miss that spunky, cheeky lady like hell though.

women I’ve loved…

Reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature – all are lottery tickets for creativity. Scratch away at them and you’ll find out how big a prize you’ve won.

– Twyla Tharp

Through every personal evolution, I’ve noticed that there are some tendencies in me that refuse to budge. Whether it’s in design, style, principle or just personal taste… my preferences remain the same. ‘Why?’ I asked myself today, as I scanned a friend’s collection of writings and pictures with deep envy. ‘Why don’t I see life like she does?’

Is it a choice? But I do my best to stay open to all sorts of ideas.

Is it something we are born with? Unless I have access to great resources for an in-depth research, I will never know that one.

Is it how we were influenced through our pivotal years? That sparked off something in me, which was when I decided to review the women I’ve loved and admired.

1. Janis Joplin

‘I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I didn’t hate niggers.’

Janis Joplin was a singer/songwriter in the late 1960s, best remembered for her bluesy, heart-wrenching vocals and raw performances. Together with the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, they released a song that became my theme for a year or so, titled Piece Of My Heart.

Something about her misfit nature clicked with me then, as a 16 year old girl. She was the oldest child among three children, so was I. She felt out of place in school, I felt out of place in life. She came from a Christian background, a place which I was trying to break free from. She sang with the choir, so did I. And because she was known as the woman who dared to be different, I decided that being different from my school mates wasn’t that bad after all.

Creating my own world of rhythm and blues, psychedelic rock and anything that involved the poets and writers in the Beat Generation, it didn’t hurt too bad that I couldn’t identify with the rest of my mates. It was okay. I had Janis and gang and they understood. Everything about their beliefs and outlook on life, I absorbed. It was also around that time that I began listening to Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Otid Redding and interestingly enough, Miles Davis.

*

2. Bjork

‘There’s no map to human behaviour.’

Although Bjork had been performing since the age of 11, and was also part of the Sugarcubes in the early 90s, I only started buying her records when she went solo. I had every album, single and collaboration she was involved in, as I was deeply mesmerized with her personality and music.

I was still studying then, and so, Bjork became my source of inspiration for sound, music and video productions. I was introduced to the remarkable works of Michel Gondry (he directed her music videos), listened to Tricky, Howie B, 808 state, and soon enough, the world of dance music opened up to me.

I managed to watch her perform twice and I remember leaving the concert exhilarated. Not because I finally had the chance to watch a woman I so greatly admired (although I must admit, I was right there, in front of the stage), but because I felt I’d caught something – a certain passion for life.

The greatest impact Bjork had on me though, was her hunger to work with different genres of music. There were no boundaries in her exploration of different styles, and though some projects didn’t seem as successful as others, I just grew in admiration of a woman who was unafraid to try anything.

*

3. Darlene Zschech


Having spent most of my teenage years running from the church, I finally walked through the doors of my local church in 1997, and was greeted by a new sound. A sound that I found liberating. A sound helmed by a team from Hillsong Australia, led by a worship leader named Darlene Zschech.

I loved her leadership on stage, the songs that she sang and the words that she wrote. It all seemed to come from one place – the heart. And because it was birthed in the deepest place of intimacy, I found myself identifying with her open vulnerability. I remembered the first time I actually met her face to face. I was assigned to write an article on her and my opening question was, ‘Standing on stage looking out at the thousands of people in front of you… what’s the first thought you have?’

She kept quiet, her head down. I grew worried. Did I do something wrong?

Then lifting her head, she looked at me with tears in her eyes, ‘I feel the power of His grace. His love. That He would call someone like me to do His work. There’s nothing in me that deserves this. Nothing. It’s just Him.’

Since then, I’ve had the chance to work with her on more occasions but nothing has changed. It’s still the same. Her life is lived with one purpose, a purpose that I’ve grown to share – that every breath we breathe, we do it for Him.

*

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.

– Benjamin Franklin

There’s another woman I love deeply.

She was the first misfit – being the daughter of a Brigadier-General, she moved from location to location, never having enough time to from firm friendships, never really integrating with her surroundings. The classic loner, she read books, wrote and lived through music.

She was the first bohemian – while the rest of her counterparts studied business, accounting or became teachers, she pursued music, learning how to build and construct pianos. Leaving her home, she traveled to a little known place I now call my country, and established herself here as the first female piano tuner in the late 70s. I’m still in shock that she was the one who tuned Duke Ellington’s piano when he came to perform.

She was the first rebel – against her Japanese traditions, fighting to be an independent woman with a successful career.

She was a survivor – alone in an alien country, coping with a husband who cheated on her, dealing with a handicapped child (my second sister), from having a lot to having little… mother made home a place of refuge.

She was a nurturer – every where she went, she brought me along. When she cooked, I was seated on the kitchen table top, reading a book. When she went shopping, I was in her basket. When she went to church, I played in the gardens.

I found my identity as a woman, by watching my mother.

And therein lies my answer.

The person I am and the choices I make, the personal tastes I have… they were all cultivated by the influences I was exposed to, but instilled with deeper roots because of the mother I had.

mother | me

The tears are rolling down my face as I write this.

I’m not quite sure how to deal with the news.

‘I’ve never had the feeling come so strong before and I know I must do this,’ Mother said to me over a cup of tea, several days ago. We had just returned from our trip back to Japan and Obachan’s health (although vastly improved when we visited her) had deteriorated. ‘Ever since Uncle Shintaro passed away… Obachan has had no one to care for her. Paying for a full-time nurse is different. There’s no personal touch. I am her only daughter and I must do this. I want to do this.’

I thought she meant some time in the future.

But today, she handed in her resignation at work.

Because sometime in April, Mother is moving to Japan for an indefinite period of time to care for Obachan.

*

I have never in my whole life been apart from Mother.

Every time I encountered a problem, had some good news or wanted an honest opinion, Mother was there. And when I had to leave for a trip urgently and the household was in shambles, Mother picked up the pieces after me.

I know she’s doing the right thing.

I know Obachan needs her and that Mother is a mere phone call away.

I know these things… but who else knows me inside out like her?

*

‘I’m being selfish, aren’t I… wanting Mother to stay back just for me…’ I sniffled in the Dream Maker’s arms tonight. ‘But I can’t help it. I suddenly feel so lost.’

He just hugged me tighter, enveloping me with His arms of love.

‘What am I going to do when she’s gone? Who will I run to? Will I get used to her empty room?’ I wailed.

‘Look, when the time comes, you’ll be fine.’ He wiped my tears away. ‘You’ll handle everything spectacularly.’

‘How do you know? I’ve had to be an adult, yes… I’ve had to do my share of adult things… but I’ve always had the time away to be a child again when she was around. I’m not sure I can be an adult without her.’

‘Hey…’ the Dream Maker said, ‘Her blood runs in your veins. Everything you see in her – her resilience, her wisdom, her strength – it’s all inside you. And when the time comes for you to rise up, you will. It’s in your very person to shine.’

I shook my head. It wasn’t just about me and whether I could cope.

Mother was my comforter, a blanket of assurance I wrapped myself in every time life dealt me a cold blow. I wanted to be mothered.

‘It’s her season to be mothered, and to care for her mother in return. Let her go. And love her while she’s still around… for you to freely express your heart to. Don’t let the loss consume the life that remains. It will be good…’ He whispered into my ear.

I sighed. Then wiping my tears, I stood a little straighter and managed a smile.

I will determine to show her an expression of my love every single day with something new. I want her to go knowing she’s loved deeply… that she’ll be missed greatly…

And that somehow, she needn’t worry about what she leaves behind because like her, I will be independent and take care of everything in this household while she’s away. I can.

And for my mother, I will.

*

I’ll miss you mummy.

*

[Footnote: For those who work with her, please don’t disclose her decision till she herself makes the announcement. I think she’ll like it that way.]

sewing the quilt of today

Ma (my father’s mother) used to sew me patchwork blankets. She used her old Singer sewing machine and with deft fingers and swift feet, she maneuvered the machine like a maestro, bringing together scraps of cloth into a harmonious blend of comfort and warmth. Every year, we received those lovely blankets and I wish I had spent more time with her but like all children of mixed heritage, I could never get past the language barrier. I barely knew her.

During the war, Ma would make soup for her eight children using whatever was on hand. Sometimes, it was the crabs my father caught in the drain. Most of the times, it was stewed rats flavoured with the bark of trees. I have no idea if there was any great nutritional value in those soups but my aunts, uncles and father were all fit creatures.

To make more money, Ma smuggled opium for drug dealers. One of my favourite stories is of her hiding the packet of opium in the baby carrier, with my father in it. She was never caught but I wonder what went on in her mind, as she walked past the regimental police. She was fearless and hardy, tireless in her sacrifices for the family and for that, I honour her.

I could never finish sewing a quilt. I don’t have the patience.
I would never smuggle drugs. I am a law abiding citizen.
I will never eat rats. I love my wholemeal bread, fresh milk, wheatgrass and vitamins.

And yet… I am her grand-daughter. I look at myself and wonder if I have, somewhere deep within me, the same tenacity, creative strength and boldness she had. She survived the war. I felt like dying as I ran today for health reasons.

But I am a patchwork design of my ancestors and one day, I know I’ll be a source of comfort and warmth to someone. Maybe I’m just an unfinished product for now?

*

‘The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs… I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in a hurry to get on to the next things: dinner, bath, book, bed.

I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.’

– Anna Quindlen

Each night, I sew.

I take the memories of minutes gone by, snippets of conversations and snapshots of the sad, spectacular and at times, even the empty spaces and weave them into words.

I sew because I have to. I want to remember.

The days go by too fast and if I don’t take note of them, incidents that just happened a few months ago turn into dusty images of a bygone era. It all happens too swiftly, is forgotten too easily. And my greatest fear is that one day, I’ll wake up and wonder: what did I do with my life?

But because I have woven these pieces into paragraphs of thought, I know I can pick up my patchwork blanket of the past, cuddle within it and remember.

We come into the world with nothing and will one day leave likewise. What will we have then but our memories?

*

‘I feel discarded and useless,’ The Mother confided in me last night. ‘Everyone around me is younger, more adept with technology, the constant changes in the environment and this culture’s style of communication. Sometimes… I even feel as though I’m the weakest link in the team.’

‘Useless?’ I nearly bellowed. ‘If they don’t see the strengths in you, they are the ones losing out! You are an amazing woman,’ I looked at The Mother sternly. ‘Have they struggled with deep poverty? Have they carved out an existence, career and established a family in an alien land? No! Have they run emergency rescue operations like you did years ago? No. I admire you. I think you have a wealth of wisdom I want to tap into. Mother… I want to be like you.’

‘Really?’ The Mother looked at me. ‘But what about work? What use am I to them?’

‘Hey, I feel that way too. There are times my weaknesses overwhelm me but that’s why I feel this journey is precious,’ I reached out to hold her hand. ‘These are precious times, moments when we really ask ourselves, what are we worth? What defines us? And I look to the Dream Maker and remember that He thought I was precious enough. He defined my value with His sacrifice. He treasures my days so much so that He carefully wrote my life’s story.’

‘That’s true…’

‘And if the people around you are filled with their own weaknesses, perhaps it’s good to let them walk out their own personal journeys too. I mean, they could be going through battles just like we go through, making mistakes and learning on a steep curve. It might be just as hard for them.’

The Mother smiled.

‘Thanks dear, for putting things into perspective for me,’ she leaned over to hug me.

And I sewed in that patchwork of conversation because I know one day… I’ll need to hear it for myself too.

*

I finished one article today and promptly sent off the wrong draft copy to the editor.

I completed the draft of another story that’s supposed to be the lead. It bends traditions in writing and feeling a little worried that it might be too different, I read it to the Mother. She didn’t get it. With a sigh, I trudge back to the writing desk and nibble my pencil in frustration.

I ran today, after two weeks of laziness. I didn’t go far. It felt hard. I want to give up and maybe not do the run this Sunday. I’m still thinking about it. I hate the taste of quit.

In all these things… my mind was focused on getting it done.

Maybe I should really start treasuring the doing a little more…